[QODLink]
Europe
Pope condemns Belgian raid
Police raid on bishops'meeting in connection with paedophilia probe criticised.
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2010 17:46 GMT
Police confiscated phones, computers and reportedly detained several priests during the raid [AFP]

Pope Benedict XVI has criticised the "deplorable methods" of Belgian police who raided a meeting of bishops as part of a paedophilia probe.

In a letter of support to Andre-Joseph Leonbard, the archbishop of Brussels-Malines, Benedict on Sunday expressed anger at the confiscation of phones, computers and other items.

"I want to express ... my closeness and solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, searches were carried out," Benedict wrote.

Belgian officials say the raid on Thursday followed a string of sexual abuse accusations directed at high-level members of the church.

Stefaan De Clerck, the Belgian justice minister, defended the police and accused the Vatican of overreacting.

"The bishops were treated completely normally during the raid on the archdiocese and it is false to say that they received no food or drink," he said, referring to media reports about their treatment.

Possible legal action

Benedict's criticism follows condemnation from other church officials. Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, said the detention of several bishops during the raid was "serious and unbelievable".

In a statement, the Vatican said it would consider legal action if the raid turned out to be what it called a "fishing expedition".

The Belgian church was rocked in April when its longest-serving bishop, 73-year-old Roger Vangheluwe, resigned from his post after admitting sexually abusing a boy for years.

Retired priests have also accused church officials of covering up hundreds of cases of sexual abuse going back more than 15 years.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.