Supreme Judicial Council delivered an ungracious verdict on 'Chalice' investigation

Those who, like Walter Van Steenbrugge, denounced illegalities, influence and a complete lack of respect for the victims were portrayed, including by some representatives of the judiciary, as fantasists or conspiracy theorists.

Media and numerous magistrates and lawyers played the man and oracled about the smooth functioning of justice. Four days after the publication of Walter Van Steenbrugge's book (Operation Church, proposed in October 2023), a press release was sent out by the federal prosecutor's office, condoning the absence of the victims. Their presence was not necessary.

The Supreme Judicial Council's decision on this is crystal clear. The victims had to be invited. This was failed on three occasions. The Supreme Court does not use the word clandestine, but confirms illegality. The victims were ignored. In his book, Van Steenbrugge denounced that the chairman of the KIB who returned the documents to the church should never have been seated. The Supreme Court plainly confirmed this and did not understand why the federal prosecutor's office did not act against it. There is no longer any question of conspiracy theory. What remains is great indignation that all this was possible.

The Supreme Court identifies several dysfunctions. To make one dizzy. The Supreme Court cannot even deny that there were traces of influence: intervention by the justice minister, unusual interference by the Brussels public prosecutor, a contact with the Vatican, a conversation with the diocese's lawyer. It all passes in review. These traces could not be investigated further because the Brussels prosecutor general's office and the federal prosecutor's office refused to make their internal communications available.

The separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial) and the independence of the judiciary are essential to a constitutional state. In our constitutional system, this implies above all that there should be adequate control over each power. It should be stressed that it is to democracy's credit that such thorough scrutiny of the judicial process could be implemented. But it should not stop here. The commission of enquiry must finish its work. Two actions are pressing.


If the Supreme Court holds that internal communication between prosecutors' offices was not communicated, the enquiry commission itself must act. The enquiry commission can act as an investigating judge. This has been done in the past. A specific procedure is also provided for that purpose. So it seems obvious to me, given the content of the Supreme Court report, that the enquiry commission should immediately have these documents seized. The bottom line has to be lifted. It is the rule of law itself that is at issue.

Second, the House of Representatives can force the minister to act. In 2021, the House of Impeachment recalled the federal prosecutor's office because it wanted to split off a large part of the file due to statute of limitations. That included the images of sexual abuse of minors by former Bishop Vangheluwe, which allegedly were not images of sexual abuse of minors. Judicial police investigators thought otherwise but were knocked back. The Chamber should oblige the minister to use his right of injunction and thus finally oblige the federal public prosecutor to do what should be done: prosecute the perpetrators and finally bring justice to the victims.

Too much deeds and profiling has been blamed on my office mate. I can only hope that he and the office will step up their efforts and sharpen their point. I somewhat feel that this hope will be fulfilled. To the regret of those who envy it.