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Belgian Catholic offices raided in sex abuse probe

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by PELE, Jun 26, 2010.

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    PELE JF-Expert Member

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    Belgian Catholic offices raided in sex abuse probe

    Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Thursday, 24 June 2010 17:23 UK

    Officials said they were searching for evidence of possible abuse
    Belgian authorities have raided the headquarters of the Belgian Catholic Church during an investigation into child sex abuse claims.
    A spokesman for the Brussels prosecutors' office confirmed that the palace of the archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels had been sealed off.
    Police also raided the home of retired Archbishop Godfried Danneels.
    Belgium is one of several countries in which a stream of abuse claims have shaken the Church.
    Brussels prosecutors were looking for material relating to allegations of sex abuse, a spokesman for the prosecutors' office said.
    "This is a case that the Brussels prosecutors' office received recently, containing a statement of facts in relation to alleged sexual abuse of minors by a number of people within the Church," said Jean-Marc Meilleur.
    "The object of the searches is to verify the declaration and eventually gather evidence about these declarations."
    Tapping on boards
    At the home of Archbishop Danneels in Mechelen, just north of Brussels, police did not question the cleric but took away his computer, according to his spokesman, Hans Geybels.
    The cardinal believes justice must run its normal course
    Hans Geybels Spokesman for Cardinal Godfried Danneels
    Mr Geybels said police had also asked the archbishop to accompany them to the cathedral in Mechelen because they had heard that there might be files there.

    He said the officers were tapping on boards and looking for hidden spaces but, as far as he was aware, they had not found anything.
    He said Cardinal Danneels was co-operating fully: "The cardinal believes justice must run its normal course. He has nothing against that."

    Separately, the offices of an independent commission set up to look into cases of sexual abuse were also raided.
    An inquiry into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church in Belgium has been running for several years.
    In April, the then-bishop of the city of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned after admitting that he had sexually abused a boy earlier in his career.
    At the time, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard said the move showed that the Church wanted to "resolutely turn a page on a very painful" topic.
    Papal pledge
    In recent months, allegations of abuse levelled against Catholic priests have surfaced in many countries.

    There have also been accusations that Church authorities in Europe and North and South America failed to deal with cases openly or properly.
    Pope Benedict XVI himself has been accused of being part of a culture of secrecy, and of not taking strong enough steps against abusers when he had that responsibility as a cardinal in Rome.

    However, his supporters say he has been the most pro-active pope yet in confronting abuse.
    The Pope pledged in April to "bring to justice" Church officials responsible for abuse.
    The Vatican also made it explicit that sex abuse cases should be reported to police if required by law.
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    PELE JF-Expert Member

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    Pope deplores 'sex abuse' raids by Belgian police

    Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Sunday, 27 June 2010 14:57 UK

    The Pope delivered a message of support for the Archbishop of Brussels
    Pope Benedict has joined mounting Vatican criticism of raids by Belgian police investigating alleged child sex abuse, calling them "deplorable".
    In a message to Belgian bishops, the pope expressed his solidarity "in this moment of sadness".
    Several buildings were searched in raids targeting a retired archbishop and the graves of two prelates.
    Prosecutors said the action concerned alleged "abuse of minors committed by a certain number of Church figures".
    Police in Leuven, central Belgium, on Thursday seized nearly 500 files and a computer from the offices of a Church commission investigating allegations of sex abuse.
    They also searched the Church's headquarters and the Brussels archdiocese in Mechelen, north of the Belgian capital.
    Belgium's bishops, who were holding a meeting at the time of the raids, were kept incommunicado for nine hours while the searches were conducted.
    'Unprecedented treatment'
    Pope Benedict's criticism of the raids came in a message of support to Brussels Archbishop
    An inquiry into church sex abuse in Belgium has been running for years
    Andre Joseph Leonard, the head of the Belgian bishops' conference.
    "I want to express, dear brother in the Episcopate, as well as to all the Bishops of Belgium, my closeness and solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, searches were carried out."
    "I hope that justice will follow its course while guaranteeing the rights of individuals and institutions, respecting the rights of victims, (and) acknowledging those who undertake to collaborate with it," Pope Benedict said.
    On Saturday Vatican officials compared the raids and investigation into allegations of child sex abuse with the treatment of the Church under communist rule.
    Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, described the detention of priests "serious and unbelievable".
    "There are no precedents, not even under the old communist regimes," he said.
    The Vatican has summoned the Belgian ambassador to the Holy See to voice its anger at the incident.
    The Catholic Church in Belgium has apologised for its silence on abuse cases in the past.
    The church was rocked in April when the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned and admitted to sexual abuse before and after becoming a bishop.