The Bishop of Liege, Monsignor Jean-Pierre Delville, has reported being tied up and robbed by youths in his private apartment, part of the episcopal palace. The thieves stole cash, chalices and paintings, but left behind the bishop’s personal crucifix. Bishop Delville, aged 67, was ordained a priest in 1980, and was ordained Bishop in 2013, the post was previously held by three later cardinals as well as Archbishop Léonard, who took over as head of the church in Belgium but was never awarded the red hat.
Mgr. Delville was present in the apartment at the time with his godson, and both men were locked up in the bathroom while the thieves gathered their booty, estimated to be worth some €20,000. The two were discovered, unharmed but in shock, the following morning and released. The bishop, meanwhile, retained his crucifix, which the men refused to take – “out of respect,” the bishop said.
“In a threatening tone they demanded cash, apparently believing the money from collections in the bishopric is gathered in the palace,” a spokesperson said. “”The bishop had no money to hand, but was forced to hand over some money he had received from his godson in connection with a foreign trip.”
Police have opened an investigation, relying on the relative rarity of the paintings and metalwork to help identify the thieves when they come to try to sell it. Bishop Delville himself, meanwhile continues as usual, celebrating the Feast of the Assumption on Wednesday, with plans to lead a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France from Saturday.