“What’s Belgium famous for? Chocolates and child abuse, and they only invented the chocolates to get to the kids.”
From the movie, In Bruges ￼
The October Papal Family Synod, appearing more like the Nod-to-sin, inexplicably and curiously included a Papal Appointment to the Synod from Belgium, retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels.
During his 30 year reign from 1979-2010, as primate of Belgium, Cardinal Danneels oversaw the disastrous free fall of Catholicism in the once strongly Catholic country. Danneels presided over the precipitous secularization of Belgium which instituted abortion on demand, same sex marriage, and euthanasia. In June 2013, Danneels indicated his support for providing legal recognition for same-sex couples. He said “The Church has never opposed the fact that there should exist a sort of ‘marriage’ between homosexuals, but one therefore speaks of a ‘sort of’ marriage, not of true marriage between a man and a woman, therefore another word must be found for the dictionary. About the fact that this should be legal, that it should be made legitimate through a law, about this the Church has nothing to say.” Not surprisingly, under his episcopacy, religious vocations sunk to a historic low and church attendance dropped to a pitiful 6%.
Why would Pope Francis choose Danneels to be included in a select group of prelates for a Synod on the Family whose stated purpose is to explore a more robust Catholic evangelization? But there is even more disturbing behavior which raises serious questions about the Pope’s judgment in choosing Danneels to advise him on family issues and propagating the Catholic faith.
On April 8, 2010, the newly retired Cardinal Danneels received some visitors at his home. They were the relatives of the Bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, Danneels’ close friend. At this meeting, the nephew of Vangheluwe described a long and sordid 13 year molestation by his uncle, the Bishop of Bruges. Cardinal Daneels advised the nephew not to go public with the sexual abuse. During the meeting, Danneels advised the young man not to “make a lot of noise” about the abuse he endured from his uncle bishop because Vangheluwe was scheduled to retire in a year anyway. “It would be better that you wait,” advised Danneels, while also urging the young man to forgive his uncle.
The conversation was tape recorded by the nephew and subsequently released to the press. Cardinal Daneels, the former head of Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church for 3 decades, could be heard on tape urging this sexual abuse victim to stay quiet and not disclose the abuse until after the bishop who repeatedly molested him over a span of 13 years could retire. After the release of the recording, Danneels did not dispute the authenticity of the conversation. A media firestorm was unleashed in Belgium, a country still reeling over institutional coverups of child sex abuse.
Bishop/Uncle Vangheluwe admitted to the sexual abuse of his nephew and stepped down from his post shortly after the April 8 meeting between his nephew and Danneels. Because of the statute of limitations law, the Bishop of Bruges was never charged with the crime. However, the plot continues to thicken.
The daily De Standaard newspaper reported that two former Belgian priests, Fathers Rik Deville and Norbert Bethune had personally informed Cardinal Danneels about Bishop Vangheluwe’s child sexual abuse several times between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. Father Deville told the Associated Press that he told Cardinal Danneels about a number of sexual-abuse cases. “The cardinal sometimes got angry and said it was not my job, that I should not get involved,” DeVille said.
Troubling, isn’t it that Pope Francis would select the disgraced Danneels for a prestigious Family Synod appointment after the Pope has verbally condemned bishops over the lingering global clergy abuse scandal? Francis exhorted the hierarchy that, “You don’t play around with the lives of children. The shame of the Church! But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity. Where was the Word of God in those scandals? They did not have a relationship with God! They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort.”
Yes, precisely, Holy Father! Cardinal Godried Danneels served in a ‘position of power and comfort’ in his palace office for 30 years. And now, the retired Cardinal enjoys a position of power at the Family Synod.
Cardinal Danneels’ clerical coverup over the Vangheluwe molestation dominated European and global headlines for weeks. Overnight he went from the darling of the liberal press, to become the European poster prelate for silencing victims of clerical child sex abuse. Surely, Pope Francis knew about this scandal. But the plot thickens even further.
The Belgian Police conducted a surprise raid on the Cardinal’s residence and office looking for documents relating to clergy abuse and questioned the Cardinal for 10 hours. Although the Cardinal was never charged, the Catholic Church’s own investigation commission issued a 200 page report on 10 September 2010.
According to the report, the commission heard allegations from 488 complainants, concerning incidents that took place between 1950 and 1990. The report contained testimony from 124 people. Two-thirds of the complainants were men, now aged in their 50s and 60s. As head of the commission, Dr. Peter Adriaenssens, a prominent and respected psychiatrist, disclosed that Cardinal Godfried Danneels name surfaced in 50 cases, not as an abuser, but as someone who knew of the sexual child abuse by the clergy.
Belgium’s new Catholic leadership, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard said he was committed to exposing abuse cases, “The time for cover-up is over,” pledged the Archbishop.
But there are even more shocking revelations about this papal Family Synod member.
In 1998, a Catholic catechism textbook for Belgian children called Roeach 3 showed comic-book-style pictures of toddlers asking sexual questions and engaging in sexual play. The Belgian Catholic hierarchy, of which Danneels was the head, stated that the textbook was intended for adolescents, (as if that is a valid and Catholic justification) and that the pictures were meant to convey the idea that young children experience lust, a prevalent theory in contemporary psychology. Catholic parents were enraged and demanded that the Catechism be pulled from classrooms. Danneels repeatedly rebuffed the parent’s requests for meetings and removal of the book. Ultimately, the textbook was withdrawn after Catholic parents were required to seek intervention from the Vatican.
Will Cardinal Danneels’ sexualized approach toward child catechesis and his dismissive and arrogant attitude toward Catholic parents be reflected in the final Family Synod document?
Read the shocking and sordid story of Cardinal Danneels’ callous and imperious treatment of Catholic parents here.
It is unconscionable and baffling that a prelate who covers up clergy child sex abuse, condones laws in direct violation of Church teaching, and allows the publication and distribution of prurient images and heretical teaching in a Catholic catechism for children provide advice and guidance to Pope Francis on the status of the Catholic family. What pastoral value and insight could this discredited Cardinal bring to the Synod’s understanding of the Catholic family?
It boggles the mind and rattles the soul that this Cardinal who oversaw the precipitous decline and destruction of the Catholic faith in Belgium, promotes the sexualization of children is providing expertise on the future of the Catholic family.
One final legacy from the 30 year ‘pastoral leadership’ of Danneels hangs over the Belgian Catholic Church. As a result of the rampant clergy child sex abuse scandal throughout Danneels’ reign, there were 13 suicides of victims of the clergy abuse. Inflicting and ignoring the criminal sexual abuse of children has deadly consequences and destroys families; it’s a nod to sin.
“But because of the choices I made, and the course that I put into action, that little boy isn’t here anymore, and he’ll never be here again. I mean here in the world, not here in Belgium. Well, he’ll never be here in Belgium either, will he?”
The movie, In Bruges
Elizabeth Yore is an international child rights attorney who provided legal and technical assistance to victim families and the government during the Belgian Dutroux pedophile serial killer case. Elizabeth Yore has spent 30 years in legal child advocacy. Recently, she served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc. as Oprah Winfrey’s child advocate. Previously, she was General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for 8 years and the General Counsel at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
If you suspect someone might be a victim of human trafficking, here are some helpful questions to ask. Also, watch for eyes lowered, or other indications of fear and deception.
Can You Leave Your Job if You Want?
Can You Come and Go as You Please?
Have You Been Hurt or Threatened if You Tried to Leave?
Has Your Family Been Threatened?
Do You Live With Your Employer?
Where Do You Sleep and Eat?
Are You in Debt to Your Employer?
How did you arrive at this destination?
Do You Have Your Passport/ID? If Not, Who Has It?
It always seems to happen. When the powerful assert their influence unlawfully, the truth comes out, but seldom where you expect it.
The shocking release and swap of the Guantanamo 5 for an alleged American soldier deserter brought a firestorm of criticism from the lowly, the unknown, and the powerless. The soldiers from Bergdahl’s platoon taught America a lesson in duty, honor and allegiance to truth. Oops, the administration forgot that there were young men on the ground, Bergdahl’s comrades in arms, who were witnesses to his desertion. Bravely and boldly without rancor, but fortified with the truth, these young enlisted men spoke up in the face of a White House Rose Garden hero welcome and Susan Rice’s outrageous comment that Bergdahl served with honor and distinction.
No doubt, the mighty dismissed and discounted Bergdahl’s platoon mates. After all, these are lowly soldiers, enlisted kids, without an Ivy League education. But the truth is a funny thing; It emboldens the weak, empowers the lowly, and exposes the mighty. The administration also forgot about the children of the fallen soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Irag. The families whose loved ones were killed by the enemy combatants housed in Guantanamo. These now grown children just might have an opinion about the release of the 5 most dangerous terrorists in Gitmo. Sure enough, along comes Alison Spann.
Her last name might be familiar. Her father, Johnny Micheal Spann, a CIA agent, former Marine was the first casualty of the Afghanistan war. Alison was 9 years old when her father was killed. 33 days later, Alison’s mother died of cancer. Alison was an orphan. Don’t feel sorry for Alison. Her father’s patriotic and fearless blood courses through her veins.
Alison appeared on Fox with Greta Van Susteren this week, and had an important opinion about the release of the terrorists from Gitmo. Alison, like the young men of Bergdahl’s platoon, earned the right to speak the truth to power. What the administration conveniently forgets is that the children of the fallen grow up, and are uniquely entitled to express their opinion. More than most, Alison Spann, as a survivor of the war on terror, brings a powerful and righteous point of view, which should have been heard before making this rash decision. This smart, beautiful, and poised college graduate freely expressed her opinion about the Bergdahl prisoner swap: seen here
SPANN: “I think that two of the prisoners who were just swapped were present when my father was killed. I first heard the news, I had heard about the Bergdahl swap and I immediately called my grandfather and consulted him about current affairs like I usually do, and he said to me I think that two of the prisoners who were just swapped were present when your father was killed. And at first, I was completely shocked and I called my stepmother and she surfed around and she confirmed that was true. So, as a whole, my family and I just had discussions about it and we were all extremely shocked, and saddened that our government would do something like this.”
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think would have been the better idea?
ALISON SPANN: “You know, it’s hard to say because it is a tough situation. But I believe that the Obama administration could have come up with a better solution. I don’t think that Americans negotiating with terrorists should ever happen. You know, it’s being debated right now whether or not Obama consulted with Congress but to me it should never be a question is if the president consulted with congress before making a decision such as this.”
VAN SUSTEREN: As you have seen things sort of a rule unfold in the last couple of nights in Iraq, obviously not where your father died, your thoughts about war and our foreign policy is what?
ALISON SPANN “We are in a crisis situation. I think that Americans have become complacent. I think we need to start becoming aware and updated on current affairs. I think that the American people it need to expect more from their leadership than what we are getting right now. The only way to do that is to stay updated on what’s happening, and you know, put pressure on the government and question the decisions being made.”
The brave comments by Alison Spann and the young soldiers from Bergdahl’s platoon remind me of the importance of truth by the great novelist and social critic, George Bernanos.
“Anyone who is indifferently open to truth or falsehood is ripe for any kind of tyranny. The passion for truth goes along with the passion for liberty….Tyranny is not behind us, but in front of us; we must look it in the face, now or never. The world will be saved only by free men. We must make a world for free men.”
The passion for truth is echoed by Alison and the young soldiers. We were denied this truth before the prisoner swap. So, wait, not only were these released terrorists, the most dangerous, but they were present when Johnny Spann was killed? Bowe Bergdahl was not captured and kidnapped by the enemy. Pvt. Bergdahl deserted his post and platoon and soldiers were killed looking for him? Doesn’t sound like this prisoner swap deserved a Rose Garden ceremony. Perhaps, if Congress was properly notified about this pending deal, someone could have checked in with Alison Spann, and Bergdahl’s platoon. They earned the right to weigh in on this decision.
Alison is a brave American, daughter of a fearless and patriotic soldier who, unlike Bergdahl, served his country with “honor and distinction.” She was only 9 years old when her father came home in a flag draped coffin from Afghanistan. Alison learned at a young age the terrible price for freedom, but she also learned that truth matters. So a young girl stood up to power, spoke the truth, and called out the President. The administration forgot about the young men and women who paid a great price for our freedom. These young patriots spoke truth to power, fearlessly and patriotically. Looks like America is still the land of the free and home of the brave.
It reminds us of the final verse of the Marine Hymn which no doubt was sung over Johnny Spann’s flag draped coffin. “In many a strife we’ve fought for life And never lost our nerve. If the Army and the Navy Ever look on Heaven’s scenes, They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines.”
“It is not permissible for us to go on destroying the family life when we know that we are destroying it.”
~Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country
Pay attention when the administration won’t let officials take photos or talk to the press. It’s a sure sign of a catastrophe in the making. An ignorant public is a compliant public.
Despite the administration’s widespread censorship of information, photos and news about these smuggled children, and a few details are leaking out through various sources.
Make no mistake about it the 90,000 unaccompanied minors who are being smuggled into our southern border are here to stay. The federal law mandates it. As every human trafficking expert knows, porous borders facilitate human trafficking, and our doors have swung wide open ushering in the most unimaginable child humanity crisis ever known in the U.S. history. This man-made disaster should never have occurred in America. Endangering children, at the expense of a political agenda is supposed to happen in third world countries where unsecured borders encourage the migration of vulnerable children during civil war or famine.
What are the clueless U.S. diplomats doing in Central America?
U.S. diplomats working in foreign countries are the eyes and ears of the U.S. government as outlined in the State Department website: “Mission staff report on political and economic issues that affect bilateral relations and possibly impact the U.S. directly.” How about alerting the Secretary of State about the tens of thousands of foreign children being smuggled to the U.S. by criminal cartels? Sounds like an economic issue that would impact the U.S. directly.
Is this catastrophe, yet another the Benghazi Boondoggle?
Did U.S. personnel in Central America send urgent cables to the State Department regarding these security issues, which went unanswered and ignored? How did our government not know that this was happening? The answer is either incompetence or collusion. Are administration officials exploiting innocent and vulnerable children whose parents recklessly and ignorantly hand them over to criminal smugglers to achieve a political aim? On the backs of helpless children?
The financial and human cost to the United States will reverberate for generations, if this child smuggling isn’t stopped now.
These trafficked children are on the federal tax rolls already. Over $1 billion in emergency federal aid has been transferred to facilities to feed and house them, but it is just a drop in proverbial federal bucket. Ultimately, these smuggled children will become foster children with State courts declaring and adjudicating them “abandoned” by their parents or “dependents” on the State. In the meantime, during this complicated and elaborate legal process, the children will be assigned free legal representation, as the already overburdened legal system tries to locate foreign birth certificates, parents, medical and educational records. While this highly complicated and elaborate legal process continues, the children will be housed in detention centers and be fed, educated, and given extensive medical and if needed, psychological care.
Here are a few facts which illustrate the financial and personal costs of the summer smuggling tsunami.
Every year in the U.S. 40,000 abused and neglected children enter foster care. Foster care costs the federal government (not including state costs) nearly $22 billion a year which computes to $40,000 per child. With the unanticipated influx of the smuggled children of Central America, the number of children entering into foster care has increased 200%. You do the math.
Today, the taxpayers of California care for 60,000 children in foster care. News reports have leaked out that thousands of the new influx of smuggled children are now moving into military bases and other facilities in California, Texas and Arizona. Get ready, California, Arizona, Texas! Your foster care population is going to explode.
It’s reported that some of these children have been sexually abused by their traffickers and already falling victims to sex trafficking rings. This tragic and avoidable disaster should hardly be a surprise to the administration. Sex trafficking is big business for smugglers, cartels, and organized crime. Human trafficking generates $32 billion worldwide. With the welcome sign on the southern U.S. border, traffickers take advantage of poor vulnerable families and innocent children to create a new pool of sex victims. When laws are not enforced and borders are not secure, criminals fill the void by exploiting weaknesses and opportunities to commit crimes and make money.
The cost to taxpayers will be staggering, ever increasing, and long term. Yet, the more disturbing trend will be the chaos on American streets. Foreign born children, abandoned by their parents, into the hands of strangers, many of whom are criminal smugglers who make money exploiting vulnerable humans, who travel over a thousand miles to a strange country, living among strangers, are severely traumatized children. These traumatized and abandoned children are without any familiar people, things, or places. It is inevitable that their lives will not be better for having been abandoned by their parents. These children will experience the same problems plaguing American children in foster care.
Expect these conditions, and more, for the smuggled and abandoned children of Central America:
Nearly half of all children in foster are have chronic medical problems.
About half of children under 5 years old have developmental delays.
Up to 80% of all children in foster care have serious emotional problems.
A recent study of arrested youth in prostituted found that nearly 60% had spent time in foster care.
50-80% of commercially exploited children had been involved with the child welfare system.
So hang on to your hat and wallet, America! The transformation of American into a Third World Country that facilitates human trafficking is underway. Not much to do but cry, for our beloved country.
© Elizabeth Yore-2014 All Rights Reserved. Elizabeth Yore is an international child advocate and human rights lawyer. She served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc., as Oprah Winfrey’s Child Advocate. Elizabeth was General Counsel of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services where she worked on a number of Unaccompanied Minor cases.She served as the General Counsel and Director of the International Division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.” ~Lord of the Flies
The Waukesha, Wisconsin police report reads like a scene from the dystopian novel, Lord of the Flies. Children, plotting the murder of a 12 year old friend for months, and luring her into the woods, where two girls traded the knife back and forth between them before one of them finally tackled the victim and began stabbing her, according to the complaint.
The 12 year old victim was stabbed 19 times by her 12 year old classmates. “The bad part of me wanted her to die, the good part of me wanted her to live,” one suspect told the investigator. The other girl told detectives they both stabbed the victim. At one point that girl said she was sorry and what she did was “probably wrong.” Probably?
The girls left the victim lying in the woods, bleeding profusely, she crawled to a road where a bicyclist found her lying on the sidewalk. Police arrived and she gave them the name of one of the girls who attacked her. During the police interrogation, one girl told a detective she understood they were going to end a life. “The bad part of me wanted her to die, the good part of me wanted her to live,” the girl told the investigator. Wanted her to die?
According to police reports, one of the suspects commented after the 12 year old victim had been stabbed 19 times, said, “It’s weird I didn’t feel any remorse.” Both girls face up to 65 years in prison, if convicted. The horrific crime prompts the same ultimate question posed in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?”
The alleged motive for this gruesome crime is even more bizarre than the age of the perpetrators.The two suspects told police that the plan to kill their friend was prompted by a character called Slender Man, who required them to kill someone before they could become his “proxy.” Slender man, the fictional aider and virtual abettor, is a cyber avatar and “leader” on the horror website, Creepypasta.
The child suspects sought “his” approval and attention because in the hierarchy of Slender Man’s cyber world, one must kill to demonstrate loyalty to the man. When asked about Slender Man, one of the suspects acknowledged that she never met “him” but said he watches her and he can read minds and teleport.
Reality and fantasy are now blurred in the Internet’s underbelly. Children and, even adults, cannot distinguish between real and virtual. Fantasy morphs into real life without regard to consequences. The Internet serves as the new, cyber playground without rules, ramifications or even a playground monitor. The virtual world hijacks reason, distorts reality and creates delusional automatons that follow the brutal dictates of a cyber interloper, who hides in children’s pockets, bedrooms and backpacks, while at home and at school.
What happens to society when children have no empathy? Internationally recognized child trauma expert, Dr. Bruce Perry addresses the source for creating empathetic children in his book, Born for Love. Dr. Perry cautions that “it’s important to recognize that play is at the heart of developing empathy. Unfortunately, many children now spend so much time in highly structure, adult-dominated activities and in front of video screens that spontaneous, self-motivated play is becoming rare. The brain is a social organ and requires affectionate contact to develop normally.” Perry warns, “You can’t learn empathy from something that can’t empathize.” Like a computer? Here’s a news flash: a computer can’t be affectionate.
Screen time does not teach virtue to children. As Perry notes, “It comes down to this. Given what we know about video violence, there is strong reason to believe that it can be pernicious. Even with “positive” content, the youngest children simply can’t learn what they need at their stage of development from screens alone.”
The Information highway winds through fright streets of horror sites, whose slick and alluring avatars exploit vulnerable children into a ghoulish make believe world so artfully crafted and psychologically compelling that their developing and immature brains cannot distinguish fact from fiction. If children are increasingly vulnerable to the lure of faux cyber life, the evidence is also growing that adults are falling prey to cyber delusion and the addictive nature of the Internet.
Enter Chris Sevier, who believes that he should be able to marry his MacBook computer. His porn-filled Mac provides his “preferred sexual object and he enjoys sex with the device more than with ‘real women.’ As bizarre and pathetic as Sevier’s obsessive preference is, he is not alone. The vanishing demographics of a great superpower are now dominated and determined by cyberspace.
Japan now has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world with the population rate rapidly dropping. The cause? Nearly 1 million Japanese teens and young men have become cyber recluses, who no longer date. Their social life revolves around online porn and games like Nintendo’s Love Plus, in which players conduct a relationship with a fake anime girlfriend.
The future looks dark and loveless for the Land of the Rising Suns, according to recent studies.
• Extremely high numbers of Japanese do not find sex appealing. 45 percent of women and 25 percent of men, ages 16 to 24, are “not interested in or despised sexual contact.”
• More than half of Japanese are single. 49 percent of unmarried women and 61 of unmarried men, ages 18 to 34, are not in any kind of romantic relationship.
• In every age group, the percentage of Japanese men and women who are not in a romantic relationship has been increasing steadily since the 1990s.
- About a quarter of Japanese don’t want a romantic relationship. 23 percent of women and 27 percent of men say they are not interested in any kind of romantic relationship.
- More than a third of childbearing-age Japanese have never had sex: 39 percent of women and 36 percent of men, ages 18 to 34.
- The Japanese population institute projects that women in their early 20s have a 25 percent chance of never marrying and a 40 percent chance of never having kids.
- Is the Internet ushering in a brave new world where human contact is relegated to taps on a keyboard and clicks on a mouse? Dr. Perry cautions that “the brain is a social organ and requires affectionate contact to develop normally.” Japanese young men shut off from the world hunkered down in a room, with eyes infatuated on an LCD screen is a brain frozen in cyberspace.
- Is humanity devolving into cyber zombies, who retreat to their virtual caves, looking for love and approval from attractive avatars? Isn’t it time to heed the message of the Lord of Flies, “the world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.”
RESOURCES TO LEARN ABOUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING DOCUMENTARIES ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING FIND ON YOUTUBE ￼
The Playground http://www.youtube.com/user/playgroundproject?feature=watch
Senate Testimony on human trafficking http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HBo9vREVBQ&list=PLE1693236811E64E7
Anti Trafficking Organizations:
International Organization for Migration http://www.iom.int/cms/countertrafficking
Canossian Daughters of Charity http://www.canossiansisters.org
ECPAT International-End Child Prostitution and Trafficking http://www.ecpat.net
Polaris Project http://www.polarisproject.org