The pope has called the raids carried out by Belgian police investigating priestly sex abuse "deplorable" and asserted the autonomy of the Catholic Church to investigate abuse alongside civil law enforcement authorities.
Pope Benedict XVI issued a message Sunday to the head of the Belgian bishops' conference, Monsignor Andre-Joseph Leonard. In it, he expressed solidarity with all Belgian bishops for the "surprising and deplorable way" in which Thursday's raids were carried out.
Benedict said justice must take its course. But he also repeated that such crimes are handled by both civil and canon law "respecting their reciprocal specificity and autonomy."
The raids targeted a retired archbishop and the graves of two prelates.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.