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Archbishop Chaput on the Belgian Raid

In a recent talk in Eastern Europe, Archbishop Charles Chaput criticized increasing ant-Christian sentiment in the West. He gave as an example the police raid of the Cardinal's residence, which he characterized as being conducted without due process.It seems to me the only question to be asked is whether the Belgian police followed the established procedures they would have followed if investigating any other suspects of child pornography and child abuse. (Belgian due process applies--not American.) And that question, it seems to me, should be asked. The procedures seem very rough. But I don't know the answer--maybe they are always very rough. I've only seen FBI raids on television.If this is the way the police proceed in every case, then it seems to me there is no question of discrimination against Christians--though there may or may not be separate reasons to call into question police procedures. Law enforcement officials should proceed the same way when investigating bishops, priests, rabbis, imams, and lay people of all stripes. We are all equal under the law. No one is above the law. There is no "benefit of clergy," so to speak. (There also should be no "benefit of celebrity, "---but that's a separate blog post.)Surely, Archbishop Chaput cannot be saying that members of the hierarchy deserve preferential treatment at the hands of secular law in the matter of investigating child abuse? Can he?UPDATE: The search was ruled illegal--but it's not clear why.


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It was, Bob --but I guess the topic evolved. Do you have a link? If the police knew that, the ideacof a raid licks very different.

The story is featured on the msnbc website. Probably a wire service story. clear whether the police knew about this at the time of the raid.

Here is the link to the report: Kaveny - good post and others seem to be focusing on different parts in terms of responses.Directly connected to the Belgium situation - have a number of questions and there seems to be some open-ended areas yet to be decided or determined:a) recent judicial ruling that the onsite seizures were not legal - guessing that this will be appealed or reconsidered....this is the ruling of just one judge (not sure what the specific Belgium law or case law is on this ruling?)b) there seems to be confusion around the victims and their records in terms of confidentiality??c) the appointed victims' committee head resigned in frustration over these police raids and subsequent announcements about the records' confidentiality...not sure if there is any final decisions around this or if that is even the correct timeline or sequence of events?d) there does appear to be a disconnect betwee what the committee head was responsible for and what the bishops' shared with him in terms of abusers, priest abusers, the bishop abuser, etc.e) another disconnect - despite the records confidentiality situation; more and more victims are coming forward? so, not sure what that means.Do we really have enought information to even know what or how this will end?

Just a sidebar to the big discussion here between Ann and Fr. KomonchackThere is reason to think that there is no final solution, no "last word" to be said, concerning the basic issues about human nature or God or the relationship between them. Instead there is no alternative to an interminable exploration of these questions. It does not follow that this interminable exploration is doomed to futility. Rather, that what it means to be human is in part to engage in this exploration. Dead ends have already shown up and will continue to do so. But part of their deadness is their pretense to be "ends." I take it that Christian thought at its best has always acknowledged that it is necessarily "en route." Unfortunately, it has all to often been claimed to have "gotten all the way to the truth." But that's just to say that these claims are themselves always evidence of having strayed into a dead end.Lest this be seen as "relativistic," consider the fact that there is always room for another poetic or musical exploration. If regards truth not as some sort of correspondence between some x and some y, but rather as the coming into light of some feature or facet of reality, then it need not surprise us that this coming into light is, at least for us in this life, interminable.So yes, watch out for dead ends, but keep exploring and honoring the others' explorations.

P. S. to my comment above. We'll never finish with exploring the Bible and its implications. As an Orthodox Jewish colleague of mine put it, one of the Bible's main messages is that we'll never figure God out. Similarly, there is good reason to believe that there is no definitive science, no "last word" about physics. But that doesn't mean we can't get ongoing illumination about God and physics, etc.

Bernard --If there is no human nature, if we are in fact not all similar beings in some extremely important ways, then all is lost. But even the psychologists are realizing that, yes, there are commonalities, and they're worth exploring. But I think what you seem to be suggesting is right. There is about us all a certain indeterminacy, an unfulfilled part that none of us has ever completed. It's the ground of our longing that St. Augustine talks about. It seems we are an openness to we know not what. Enter the existentialists. And the scholastics who saw our very rationality (both intellect and will) as *constituted* by this undetermined but determinable potential. Actually, I think Bishop Chaput is trying to get at some final description of what it would be to be human *in this life*, some one way to live successfully. But there are many ways, and he seems to find that rather disturbing. We need about a dozen threads on human nature. So much -- everything, almost -- depends on how one views it.

Ann, how one views what it is to be human is surely important. There are some dreadful views that deserve rejection. But why should I think that there is some definitive propositional formulation that would say exactly what it is to be human? There is no such definitive account to say just what Homer's Odyssey means, Nor what the meaning of World War I is or what language is. Nor of what sanctity is? So why should I expect such an account of what it is to be human?We explore. Or as Heidegger would say, to be human is to ask the question of the meaning of Being? Note: We ask, we don't get a final answer.

Bernard --If we have no description at all that fits all of us, then why do we really talk only to each other? Why not talk to the cow or the garage door for that matter.True, there is no one specific, defining *end* for everyone of us, but just as certainly we *begin* as the same sort of thing. It's our indefinite capacity for being and good hat is the same in all of us, our essential openness to completion by others, most obviously by God, according to the theologians. (This is what an Aristotelian might call a "capacity" theory of ends in current terminology, or a "potential" for actualization by others in the old vocabulary.) Enter again the notion of suitability or fittingness, though what is fitting for or completes or complements one person is not always what is fitting for another. As I see it all of creation as it develops is a movement to instantiate, as it were, aspects of the infinite God, though of course this can never be done completely. (I think process philosophy has a good bit to say about this. Have been meaning to read some more Whitehead.)

Cathleen, if you can understand French and if you really want to know some of what motivated the police, you can look at . I stumbled upon it; it looks like an official report to the Belgian justice. According to it, this Mr. Mahieu met in 2004 with Cardinal Danneels to warn him against what he thought was an attempt to blackmail him, told him about some videotape showing the torture of two girls, on which a group of people including some well known Belgian politician appeared; but the Cardinal's only reaction was: "Do I appear on the video?" --- what!??It's a bizarre story that has become seedy enough that I don't care to dig into it any further, but, if it is not entirely fabricated, it would go a long way to explain the behavior of the Belgian police during the raid. Abp. Chaput would certainly look silly if Cd Danneels turned out to be a criminal.

Claire --I read a bit of French. The site says it's for writers, and I assume that means it's mainly for people who do creative writing. Let's pray that it's just a very clever fabrication. Can it get any worse?

I hope it's just a site for creative writers. That theme was done, though, in Primal Fear, starring Richard Gere and Edward Norton--I never saw the ending coming.

Ann,I can readily agree with much of what you say in your Aug.28, 8:53 pm comment. But I would suggest that there is something "apophatic" about each of your claims. That is, we're in trouble if we deny them, but what each of them positively means remains open to interminable inquiry. For example, I myself follow Ricoeur in his account of the distinctive capacities that constitute a human person. But with him I have to acknowledge that the evidence for insisting on the fundamental distinction between persons and other entities has been and is likely to continue to be subject to not unreasonable contestation.Another way to put matters is: We find ourselves compelled under pain of a kind of performative contradiction to affirm that we are all born into a world in which our perceptions are either correct or can be corrected by further perceptions, our thinking is generally accurate or can be made more accurate by further thinking, etc. But it doesn't follow that we've definitively answered any substantive questions about what it is to be human or God, or matter, or justice, etc. It's not that we might be wrong about everything. It's rather that we never have what Descartes would call certitude about anything other than formal objects such as mathematical entities. And of course, just what the general status of mathematics is is itself a still debated matter, a matter I can't even begin to get into.

Ann, concerning science and the understanding of what it means to be human: I don't think the explosion of knowledge necessarily should cause us to start entirely from scratch in figuring out what it means to be human. I think there are different kinds of knowledge; science excels in accumulating the (mostly) provable mechanics of how the world works but that does not comprise the sum total. Think about the idea of a skill. This requires knowledge and some skill-related knowledge can be passed on but I cannot immediately transfer the skill involved in playing the piano to anyone else and no one else can transfer the skill involved in playing golf to me. The guilds of old reflected this division, being about the acquisition of skill through practice and experience vs. the straight acquisition of knowledge.And think about ideas such as art and music. Is art created today more artish than art created 3000 years ago? Is music created today more musical? I dont think so. Even with the explosion of scientific knowledge, some things dont change, particularly those related to the mysteries of existence and of the human heart. Rather than looking for a new Aquinas to integrate it all, I would look for clues in the old Aquinas, together with an intelligent and open reading of science and what it might mean to the question, mediated by a good dose of common sense.

This just turned up on the NYT site. The last paragraph but one mentions the police raid, but omits the fact that it has been ruled illegal. What does that mean? Is the fact not in the NYT database? Did the Catholic press exaggerate the degree of exoneration the ruling confers? Is it the same old tendency to make the Church look bad the NYT has shown in the past? Confused, here.

"there is something apophatic about each of your claims. That is, were in trouble if we deny them, but what each of them positively means remains open to interminable inquiry. "Bernard --Indeed. We remain infinitely, or at least indefinitely, open to what is others. (Interesting, that difference between "infinite" and "indefinite". Hmm.)". . . with him I have to acknowledge that the evidence for insisting on the fundamental distinction between persons and other entities has been and is likely to continue to be subject to not unreasonable contestation."Ann replies: Indeed. But I've always been something of a skeptic about human potentials, including our potential for certain knowledge."I have to acknowledge that the evidence for insisting on the fundamental distinction between persons and other entities has been and is likely to continue to be subject to not unreasonable contestation."Ann replies: I'm not sure just how skeptical you mean to be here. Are you saying that we can't be sure there are other minds? If so, I have to say that that might possibly be true. But *all* indirect knowledge is contestable. The bad thing about the problem of other minds is that it is so often such a practical problem -- other people can be threats. However, it seems to me that this just corroborates our judgment that there *are* such things as other people."We find ourselves compelled under pain of a kind of performative contradiction to affirm that we are all born into a world in which our perceptions are either correct or can be corrected by further perceptions, our thinking is generally accurate or can be made more accurate by further thinking, etc."Ann replies: Again, I think I must have been born a skeptic. I've never had such confidence that in my own knowing processes. Yes, they work pretty well, and they sometimes can be corrected, but beyond that, no., I'm not too sure of what I think, unless it is something a priori or directly before me and essentiaally uninterpreted. But there is little knowing such as that.but all we need for a metaphysics are some pretty primitive data. And the evidence for the world and others is so compelling usulaly that for practical purposes philosophy doesn't really count except that its puzzles are a lot of fun. As to lacking certitude, I think that that is much, much more of an affective problem than a cognitive one, usually at any rate. .

Jeanne --Your Thomism sticks out all over you :-) For Thomists self and things present few problems epistemologically (we cna always correct our judgments based on faulty sensaations/interpretations, say they), and can go on to discover not only the laws of nature but what people are and what people are *for*. In fact, I think Thomas will remain popular forever because his is the "common sense" view of being human. Or at least the Western common sense of what it is to be a person. Actually, I think that Thomas' optimism has been extremely influential in making science *possible.* Westerners used to be thoroughly optimistic about human powers of knowing -- just look at the Enlightenment. I think its optimism about rationality can be traced back to Aquinas.He made that strain of the Enlightenment possible. But enter David Hume. He is the founder of the other great Enlightenment strain -- the skeptical one, even though he himself said he rejected the conclusions that reason led him to, viz., that there is no real evidence of an external world, there is no causality, and there isn't even a self). Western philosophy has been trying to get past his problems ever since.So I expect the Aristotelian/Thomists to return to dominance, if for no other reason than that seems to be the practical ("common sense") thing to do. Aristotle's/Thomas' assumptions have certainly led to scientific discoveries, and no doubt will lead to more. But there are still great questions about the non-material part of our experience that "science' in the contemporary sense can't answer because so-called "science" is about the measurable and consciousness as such can't be measured. Not totally anyway. So those scientific hybrids, the psychologists, are having (and have been having) great methodological problems. (The last thing most of them want to get into is phenomenology/introspection.) So I don't expect much from them until they get over their problems iwth non-measurable entities and procedures. But some are opening up a bit.I should note that the current meaning(s) of "science" itself are becoming extremely problematic. But that's a whole other thread or two. But it's kind of scary at the moment because some "scientists" have even given up on rationalty. I mean some of the neuroscientists studying mystical experience. .

Felapton --Check out the site Claire posted. If the data posted there is real, the Belgian police will have the last laugh. Only it is none of it funny. Some is horrible.

Ann, if you mean by a "description that fits all of us" something that we take to have been definitively established, then there are miles between yoour position and mine. If however your claim is that we need some "working hypothesis" of what it is to be human to guide our explorations, a hypothesis that is at bottom heuristic rather than definitional, then we can agree.Separately, i fear that our comments on this pot have lost whatever interest they may have had for others and perhaps we would do well to await another thread for which our discussions would be more apposite. What do you think?

Bernard --If there is nothing we share, then why do we call us all "humans"? Perhaps what we share is trivial, but then maybe we're trivial realities. I'm not sure we share the same questions about "being human", which would, of course, lead to to our having different answers, even different sorts of answers. So I don't know where our discussion would be appropriate. But I doubt this is the thread for it. You have gotten me a bit interested in Ricoeur, though :-)

Will A/B Chaput now explain how abuse cover-ups by a Cardinal is a part of the magisterium and something the Church has always taught? since this is the other shoe dropping maybe some shoe throwing should become the appropriate lay response.

@Ann Oliver,Hi Ann. But we suspect Claire's site is unreliable, right? It could be the sort of place people publish calumnious accusations under the guise of "fiction." My best theory goes something like this: somebody on the prosecution/victims' side of the thing has been leaking damaging information ever since the raid. These tapes are about the third such leak. The judge who ruled the raid illegal may have been reacting to the pervasive leaks; he may have thought they somehow make it impossible for the case to be tried objectively. Now the prosecution/victims are making a demonstration to the appeals court's judge. As to the NYT, the most probable hypothesis is that they just don't have all the information in their database, or they forgot to check the database.

Felapton: totally unreliable, I agree. Anyone may publish anything they want there, true or calumnious. There is no rule! I am frankly not sure whether I should have linked to it. If no journalist has picked it up, maybe that means that we should assume that it's nonsense? (That website has published some sensitive but true information such as a Microsoft internal doc on online surveillance, so not everything there is rubbish.) for a translation of the transcript of the tapes. It's terrible quality (probably automatically generated) but sufficient to see that the quotes of Cardinal Danneels' hush suggestions have not been cherry-picked. I don't know why Reuters, AFP, NYT etc. are talking about this story but no one is bothering to provide a proper translation. Wouldn't people rather read and judge for themselves than have to rely on a journalist's comments?

Felapton ==Being unreliable is not an automatic reason not to quote it. Iin fact, I didn't repeat in my own words the accusations that were made because without corroborating evidence we can't fairly conclude that the documents are real. But as Claire points out there has also been some true and important stuff on that site. In the case of this Danneels report, unhappily in my judgment it has the ring of truth, as outlandish as it also seems. The presentation is such that it would have required a lot of resources/money to produce such official-looking documents. Not to mention that the police seem to believe he is a very bad guy. I pray it is a hoax. But who would do such a thing? To what purpose? Why smear Cardinal Danneels reputation to that degree? We now know that Cardinals sometimes behave abominably. For instance, I wouldn't have believed that Cardinal Law behaved as he did recycling those abusers, but the evidence against him is overwhelming, and Rome even rewarded him subsequently. We simply cannot trust the people in the Cardinal confraternity any more because we now know the extent to which bad behavior by bishops is tolerated, plus something like 14 bishops, including a Cardinal, have themselves been abusers. The culture is, with respect to cover-ups, simply rotten, and it *needs to be seen for what it is*. This brings up that old moral quandary -- when *should* we repeat what might be only gossip or lies but also has some evidence in its favor? I say that IF -- repeat IF -- there is serious evidence then we need to make it known, particularly to those in a position to check it out. I"m thinking of the press or the police or whomever is in a position to take needed action. There are highly responsible newspaper people who participate in this blog, so I made reference to the Danneels charge, hoping one or more of them will try to check it out. Last but far from least, please consider this: if the Cardinal is innocent the accusation *should* be checked out because the damaging stuff is already out on that site.One way or another, the truth should be spoken

Hi Ann and Claire,I have no objection to quoting material of questionable reliability. I just wonder how to weigh it appropriately in formulating an idea of what might be going on. Maybe I'm confused about which tapes we're talking about. The information about the tapes quoted by the NYT, in which the Cardinal urges the Bishop's nephew to stay quiet, are clearly pretty reliable. But the tape alluded to in another post, which suggests the Cardinal may have been doubtful about whether he was present at the torture of two girls, seems unsubstantiated. Shocking, but probably fabricated. When life seems to be imitating the movies, it's usually just somebody's imagination running wild.I suspect the answer to Claire's question (Why isn't it being reported more generally?) is that anything that is leaked can't be used in court and the prosecutors are still hoping to use what they have.As to the question who would want to smear Danneels, it is not a coincidence that the "translation" turned up on a site called "Catholic Conservation." Danneels has been an object of opprobrium to the Tighty-Righties for years. He was considered squishy on all the issues on which the TRs are adamant.I have no idea why Belgium has such seemingly furious anti-clericalism. Maybe somehow the Church got mixed up in the ethnic rivalry? In other places, where the Church has been associated with some really bad guys in the recent past (Mussolini, Franco, Salazar, Pinochet) it's more understandable. No choice but to wait and see right now.

"There is an overwhelming consensus in this country, for example, that premarital sex is not always wrong, and that contraception is morally permissible. (Incidentally, those judgments do not necessarily imply relativismthey just imply moral disagreement.) That consensus is reflected in the law. Those social debates, so to speak, are closedand his side lost. Society is moving on."Cathleen, didn't you think, though, that your observations are in keeping with the tenor of his talk - that in the relationship between the church and the larger society, the larger society is increasingly antagonistic to the church and what it teaches, and the church can look to the 20th century experience in Eastern Europe to learn what to expect, and how to cope. I think he realizes full well that large swaths of people have moved on. He's grappling with what the church does in response.

Jim, that's an interesting question. I do not, myself, sense that he is grappling fully with the idea that people have considered and rejected the Church's position on these issues for what they consider to be good and sufficient reasons--I think he still caricatures them as the "culture of death," or selfish, or benighted etc. And I think he believes the Church has a right to be in the moral conversation because it's the Church--and to insist that the conversation make room for it. I think not doing that is what he means by being anti-religious. I think the consequences he sees for the Church are exaggerated and paranoid. If Belgium were Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia--there wouldn't have been a search warrant in the first place, and a judge wouldn't have thrown out the evidence. And there would be no free press to complain.He should watch Sophie Scholl. There's no Roland Friesler involved in this.And incidentally, I think he' receive a more sympathetic reading if he interpreted people a bit more charitably. So do we all!

God help us.

Felapton --Yes, the written report on the net is claiming there is a second tape. The police and/or the media could easily check out the written stuff on the net. If the police have already done so, and if it the tape *is* real, it would certainly explain the police's extraordinary behavior. Real or unreal I think the whole thing needs to be checked out, The Cardinal needs exoneration if it isn't true.

"And I think he believes the Church has a right to be in the moral conversation because its the Churchand to insist that the conversation make room for it. I think not doing that is what he means by being anti-religious."Cathy --Agreed. And I think that one of his big misunderstandings is that he thinks the media et al will take the Church seriously if, as the Official Church regularly does, it just says what it believes are proper morals but offers little or no evidence in support of the Church teachings. When Catholics give reasons they are welcomed. Consider Maritain in France and even world-wide and Alasdair MacIntyre in the English-speaking world. They give reasons for their views and are respected by non-Catholics. I also agree he is not entirely fair to the seculars. That is probably a hang-over from the days of the Index when churchmen were terribly ignorant of just what their opponents were thinking, and so the opponents were demonized. Heaven forbid that a Kant or a Hume might have been an honorable man!

@ Joseph A. Komonchak on August 28th, 2010 at 11:59 amI understand the Catholic Church to believe that the magisterium, consisting of the Pope and Bishops, is the divinely appointed authority in the church whose purpose is to teach and establish the true faith without error. If one accepts this, then it seems perfectly logical to me to describe the magisterium as the official church when it comes to pronouncements about not only the particulars of Catholicism but Christianity at its core.

Jimmy Mac: It's a pet project of mine, to try preserve the word Church for the whole bunch of us, and, when one means pope and bishops, to use those words, or the hierarchy, or even Church officeres.

Felapton, sorry I got you confused. My last comment had two paragraphs about two independent incidents. The first paragraph was about a report on a web site, not corroborated by anything else, not picked up by any media, but that, if true, would be pretty damning for Cardinal Danneels. The second paragraph was about a transcription of the tape of the conversation between Cardinal Danneels and a sexual abuse victim -- a tape confirming our belief in the hierarchy's secrecy and callousness towards victims, that was abundantly commented by newspapers this weekend.

JAK: from your lips to the magisterial ears!

We should forward Austen Ivereigh's piece at America to Arb. Chaput!

Bob - AB Chaput would just have a "mental reservation".

A defense of Cardinal Danneels by his lawyer can be found at:

I myself don't believe we have sufficient information to make any judgments about this matter, and won't have sufficient information until we know the basis for the raid.

Discussions of the observance of the right to privacy against unreasonable search and seizure in Belgium, and/or whether hierarchs like Chaput have the capacity for intellectual honesty are helpful, yet they miss the real dynamic at work in Chaput's claim to special status before the law and under cultural customs.Chaput is first and foremost an ambitious politician in the world's (technically, in western civilization) oldest feudal oligarchy. His political advancement is dependent on impressing his patrons in the Vatican, and protecting their mutual prerogatives and assumed high station of the clerical understanding of the world. Chaput, like most if not all his brother bishops who have been selected under the Wojtyla and Ratzinger regimes, is also a fierce reactionary ideologue. Chaput is a real Opus Dei zealot, but we at least know where he is coming from.If these lenses are absent in any of our analysis, then we are missing the forest for the trees.P.S. Kaveny is right about insufficient information until we know the basis for the raid. We don't know what motivated the decision to go ahead with the raid by Belgium officials. A former prosecutor and now superior court judge here in California, and fellow parishioner at Newman Hall in Berkeley, shared a speculation with me that the police agents probably didn't observe all the requirements of the Belgium "search laws," but obviously felt their "investigative tips" were highly probably to produce what they were really looking for.