Tag Archives: André-Joseph Léonard

Confiscation Of Cardinal Danneels’ Computer And The Scanning Of The Tombs Of Two Former Cardinals

Suffice to say that what happened in Belgium yesterday when they raided the residence of Cardinal Godfried Danneels and that of the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Andre-Joseph Leonard was unprecedented in modern times.

Today we are finding out that they seized Cardinal Danneels’ computer and drilled into the tombs of two former cardinals to determine if documents had been recently secreted within these tombs! This is pretty heady stuff. Seems far fetched even for the Catholic Church. Yes, hiding ‘stuff’ within the tomb of a cardinal may have been ‘state-of-the-art’ in the fourteenth century … but this is now?

That the Vatican is outraged was to be expected.

That those that have been agitating for more action against the clergy that supposedly abused children were overjoyed and warmly applauded the actions of the Belgian authorities was also to be expected.

Here are two links to the latest stories: << BBC >> and << AP >>.

My current feeling, and as ever, I could be wrong, is that the Belgians overreached slightly and are now going to over-compensate by sweeping everything under the proverbial carpet! In a way that is a shame.

Given my background in computers, what fascinated me most was the confiscation of Cardinal Deanneels’ computer. This could literally have been Pandora’s Box.

As I point out on page 81 of my ‘The Next Pope‘ book, secular powers are supposed to treat cardinals as the equivalent of royal princes.

Page 81 of Anura Guruge's February 2010 'The Next Pope'
Page 81 of Anura Guruge's February 2010 'The Next Pope'

Belgium, like Britain, has a constitutional monarchy. There is a King and a bunch of princes. So, Belgium is a country that fully understands and appreciates the notion of royal princes.

Though it is now mainly a secular country, about 47% of the population is still, at least nominally, Catholic. Thus, one has to assume, that Cardinal Danneels was considered to be a part of the Royal Court — given the existence of a Court and the Catholic bias of the population.

This is what puzzles me. I am not sure whether the British authorities would ever confiscate the computer of a British prince — whatever the supposed crime. I could be wrong.

Cardinal Danneels is Belgian. That can’t be refuted. So he is subject to the Belgium laws. I don’t think the pope or the Vatican could claim otherwise. Of late, the Vatican has gone to great lengths to claim that Bishops do not report directly to the pope. [This being to distance the pope from bishops facing civil investigations in places like the States.] The same argument would apply to a Cardinal — especially one who was an Archbishop. Thus, I am not sure that Cardinal Danneels can claim any sort of diplomatic immunity citing that he actually is a ‘citizen’ of the Vatican City State. That works for the pope. But, I am sure it won’t cut any mustard in the case of Cardinal Danneels. So diplomatic, as opposed to royal, immunity would be out of the question.

There is one thing I am fairly sure about. That is that the Vatican probably never thought that the computer of one of its cardinals would get confiscated. It is likely that sensitive information is stored, encrypted. And I doubt whether Cardinal Danneels will surrender the code to unencrypt the data. Yes, the Belgian authorities, but, if not, the FBI for sure, could crack the code IF they wanted to — all it needs is oodles of processing power.

But there could be emails. My gut feel, and I could be wrong, is that there will be some amount of ’embarrassing,’ if not incriminating, data on that computer. It may not be explicitly to do with what took place in Belgium. But, there could be documents that talked about the Vatican’s general policy re. the clergy abuse scandal.

If so, could the Vatican agitate that the information is protected. Of course, if can — whether it has a legal basis or not. But, here is where gumption comes in.

I think the Belgian authorities are ALREADY feeling the heat. Maybe they went too far. Maybe all they should have done was nab a few computers. Drilling holes in tombs is always provocative.

So my druthers is that this matter is already at an end!

Nothing will be found. The Belgian authorities will start back pedaling. Claim nothing of importance was found.

But, as ever, I could be wrong.

Anura Guruge

Cardinalabili [i.e., Potential New Cardinals] List From Italy

Cardinalabili list from Italy
Cardinalabili list from Italy

I try to track papabili [potential next pope]. But there are a few who are as interested, if not more, in trying to predict ‘cardinalabili,‘ i.e., who might be next in line to be created a cardinal.

As I have pointed out we should be due for another cardinal-creating consistory within the next 12 months — though I am also the first to agree that the pope does have some other issues to also deal with.

A couple of days ago I got an e-mail from Italy with a link to this cardinalabili list in a rather ‘posh’ Italian blog titled ‘Vatican Diplomacy‘.

I have a fairly good idea as to who compiled this anonymously published list … but my thoughts are private and my lips are sealed. It is not by an American. I can tell you that much.

The list, as you can see, was published on January 22, 2010.

It has 18 names listed as ‘SECURE’ (securi) — i.e., locked in. That is tight if all are to be cardinal electors.

Yes, right now we have 12 vacancies and 7 more electors will turn 80 by the end of this year. Plus, if any were to die.

Plus, the 120 cardinal elector limit set by Paul VI (#263) in 1973 is arbitrary. It is not tied to anything specific or meant to symbolize anything. The previous limit set on the cardinals, albeit this to the whole College since there was no 80 year cut off in those days, was 70 established by Sixtus V (#228) in 1586. This 70, however, was supposed to reflect the 70 elders that shared Moses’ burdens.

Pope John XXIII (#262), in 1958, at his very first consistory, 48-days into his papacy, calmly (and with no prior edicts) overrode the Sixtus V 70 limit making the new College 74 strong. He continued to increase the size of the College — all the way up to 90.

So Benedict XVI could emulate John XXIII and increase the 120 limit.

So, have a look at this Italian list. That we have the Archbishop of Colombo from my native Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is a ‘kick.’ But, thought most don’t realize (unless, of course, they read my book) is that we have already had a cardinal from Ceylon. Cardinal Thomas Benjamin Cooray who participated in both of the 1978 conclaves.

Let me know what you think. I might even be able to convey your comments to the author of this list.

Anura Guruge