Tags: Pope | Belgium | raid | church

Pope Rips Belgium After Church Raid

Monday, 28 Jun 2010 03:28 PM

ROME — In a sign of sharply rising tensions between the Vatican and Belgium, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday criticized as “surprising and deplorable” a raid on church property last week by Belgian police officers investigating sexual abuse by clerics.

In an exceedingly rare personal message and rebuke of a sovereign country, the pontiff also stressed the church’s “autonomy” to conduct its own investigations and criticized the “deplorable methods” of the Belgian police, who detained bishops, confiscated files and even drilled into the tombs of at least one cardinal in the Cathedral of Mechelen, north of Brussels, in a search for documents.

“On several occasions I have personally reiterated that such serious issues should be attended to by both civil and canon law, with respect for their reciprocal specificity and autonomy,” Benedict said in a statement circulated by the Vatican on Sunday.

He also expressed his “closeness and solidarity” with the Belgian clergy and André-Joseph Léonard, the archbishop of Belgium and the president of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference.

The raid on Thursday came months after the Belgian church, stung by allegations of sexual abuse by clerics, created a committee to investigate claims.

On Thursday, the police in Leuven, Belgium, also confiscated the case files of that committee and the computer of its director, a well-respected child psychiatrist. The committee director, church authorities and the Vatican have criticized the police, saying they had violated the privacy of the victims who had come forward.

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ROME — In a sign of sharply rising tensions between the Vatican and Belgium, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday criticized as “surprising and deplorable” a raid on church property last week by Belgian police officers investigating sexual abuse by clerics.
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2010-28-28
 
 

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