“Time for your penance”
“Germans have no sense of humour”, “Americans don’t understand irony”, “Italians will shag anything with a pulse”, “English are uptight and constipated”, ” French have an unwarranted superiority complex” .
National stereotyping is often neither pleasant nor accurate but always contains a grain of truth and is always based on something concrete and very often represents a topical view.
Belgians, for instance used to be known as maybe a bit lacking in culture and are still regarded as stupid by the French – in the same way that we in the UK have Irish jokes and Americans have Polak jokes, and the French have Belgian Jokes.
There is a comparatively recent semi-humourous aphorism: “All of Belgium’s famous countrymen are either imaginary or sex-offenders.”
That saying is there for two reasons: Hercules Poirot and Belgian child rapist Marc Dutroux.
Dutroux was known as the Beast of Belgium and is now serving a life sentence for a series of child kidnappings, rapes and murders between 1995-96. The Dutroux story is the most horrific example of child rape and murder in Europe since the war.
He kept his victims locked in a dungeon which he had built in his basement. While Dutrox was in prison for a motoring offence, two eight-year-old girls starved to death in the dungeon. The girls, who had been raped and tortured perished because his wife (who knew the girls were there) could not be bothered to feed them.
The Dutroux case may not have sealed the Belgians’ reputation but for the incompetence of the authorities in catching him.
The Belgian authorities’ mismanagement of the hunt for the rapist and murderer was heroically ineffective. As a stream of young girls were kidnapped and murdered, there were numerous tip-offs to the police that Dutroux was selling girls. However, he remained free and continued his kidnapping spree.
The Judge in charge of the investigation was finally forced to resign in disgrace because of his gross incompetence. His name was Wathelet and he has since been appointed as a judge to the European Court of Justice.
Dutroux was finally captured in 1996 and convicted in 2004. He is currently serving life imprisonment for the kidnap, torture and sexual abuse of six girls – four of whom he murdered. There may have been many more.
The case caused such an outcry in Belgium that the judicial investigation system was changed after a protest by over 300,000 citizens and several high-profile resignations.
Dutroux claimed that he was part of a much larger Belgianpaedophile ring but no further arrests were made. Meanwhile, the Belgian nation hung its head in shame.
Subsequently, Luxembourg magazine THE INVESTIGATOPR wanted to publish a list of 50 Belgian paedophiles but was prevented from doing so by an emergency injunction served by the Belgian authorities. They had persuaded a Belgian court to agree that a decision to publish was an abuse of human rights and that there should have been a presumption of innocence.
Paedophilia is still a particularly sensitive issue in Belgium, following not-only the Dutroux case but a string of other high-profile child abuse cases in recent years.
When Madeleine McCann disappeared, there were several sightings in Belgium and the police were working on a tip-off that a Belgian paedophile ring had ordered the kidnap of Madeleine. It has been reported that someone connected to this group saw Madeleine and took a photograph of her. The purchasers agreed that the girl was suitable and Madeleine was taken.
Dutroux had links in both Gent and Bruges which is where there the several reported sightings of Madeleine McCann occurred. In total, there have been over 100 reported sightings of Madeleine in Belgium.
However, in Beyond the Dutroux Affair, it was described how a cabal of highest level players, including judges, lawyers, top bankers, prime ministers, priests and aristocrats were involved in child abuse networks and because of their networking and power, they found it simple to hamper any investigation.
Deservedly or not, Belgium’s reputation as a paedophilia centre was established.
In April 2010 , the Roman Catholic church reported the resignation of Roger Vangheluwe, the bishop of Bruges. He had admitted sexually abusing a young boy. In a letter read out by Archbishop Mgr. André-Joseph Léonard he said:
“Before I was a bishop and for a certain time afterwards I sexually abused a young boy close to me…………The victim is still scarred mentally.”
He added, “This has marked the victim forever. The wound does not heal. Neither in me nor the victim.”
Vangheluwe , 73, was Belgium’s longest serving bishop. The Vatican accepted his resignation.
Yesterday, the headquarters of the Belgian Catholic Church were raided by the police after more accusations of child priestly sex abuse.
The cleric at the centre of the police investigation is disgraced Bishop Roger Vangheluwe’s close friend, Cardinal Danneels.
The police action is doubtless as a result of Archbishop Mgr. André-Joseph Léonard urging abuse victims to take their cases to the authorities – after they had been persuaded that the authorities would take their complaints seriously.
30 officers sealed-off the former Cardinal’s palace. Embarrassingly for the Belgian authorities, this took place just as a meeting of bishops was taking place in the presence of a Vatican’s Ambassador to Belgium.
Simultaneously, the police raided raided not-only central church offices yesterday but searched the home of Cardinal Danneels, who resigned in January 2010. They took away papers and a computer. In 2005, Cardinal Danneels was mentioned as a possible future pope.
Daneels who was well-known for his very liberal views on paedophilia. He was Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium from 1979 until 2010. His views and the views of other Belgian bishops are best demonstrated by his tolerance to a catechism textbook entitled Roeach.
Roeach contained a drawing which showed a naked girl saying: “Stroking my pussy makes me feel groovy,” “I like to take my knickers off with friends,” “I want to be in the room when mum and dad have sex.”
The book also shows a naked young boy and girl who are “playing doctor” and the little boy says: “Look, my willy is big.”
The textbook caused outrage and a press debate but it was nevertheless tolerated by the Belgian Catholic church and its liberal bishops.
It would seem that the depravity of the Catholic church is not limited to priests but reaches right into the church’s hierarchy. It could well be that the Vatican’s conspiracy of silence is beginning to make more sense after the gradual unravelling of the Belgian Catholic abuse story.
Hopefully this will be an occasion when obstruction, silence,obfuscation and denial (the Catholic church’s very familiar tools of choice) are not allowed to be deployed and that secular law is finally brought to bear.
It will all be thanks to one man: Brussels’ Archbishop, Andre-Joseph Leonard who has publicly stated that there must be zero-tolerance towards cases of child abuse.