Vatican, Belgian Bishops on Raids of Church Offices

“It Was Not an Agreeable Experience”

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the communiqué published today by the Holy See after learning of a series of raids of Church offices Thursday by Belgian police.
 
In it, the Vatican offers first the communiqué of the Belgian bishops’ conference, and then adds its own statement.
 
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The bishops of Belgium were gathered in the archbishopric of Malines-Brussels around 10:30 this morning, for the monthly meeting of the episcopal conference. Around 10:30 am the judicial authorities and police forces entered and manifested that there would be a search of the archbishopric, because of denunciations of sexual abuse in the territory of the archdiocese. No other explanation was given, but all the documents and mobile phones were confiscated and it was manifested that no one could leave the building. This state lasted, in fact, almost until 7:30 pm.
 
All were questioned, both the members of the episcopal conference as well as staff members. It was not an agreeable experience, but everything was carried out correctly. The bishops have always said that they have confidence in justice and in their work. The present search is accepted with the same confidence and because of this, for the moment, they abstain from making further comments.
 
However, they, together with professor Peter Adriaensses, president of the commission for the treatment of sexual abuses in the framework of a pastoral relationship, lament the fact that, during another search, all the dossiers of this commission were confiscated. This goes against the right of privacy of which the victims must benefit who have decided to go to this commission. Hence, this action gravely injures the necessary and excellent work of this commission.
 
Eric de Beukelaer
 
Spokesman of the episcopal conference

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On publishing this statement, the Vatican State Secretariat reaffirms the firm condemnation of every sinful and criminal act of abuses of minors by members of the Church, as well as the need to repair and address these acts in a way that conforms to the exigencies of justice and the teachings of the Gospel. It is in the light of this necessity that the State Secretariat itself also expresses intense shock over the ways in which some investigations were carried out yesterday by the Belgian judicial authorities, and its indignation over the fact that there even was violation of the tombs of the very eminent cardinals Jozef Ernest Van Roey and Leon Joseph Suenens, deceased archbishops of Malines-Brussels. Added to the consternation over these acts is the lament over some infractions of confidentiality, to which precisely these victims, for whom these investigations were carried out, have a right.
 
These sentiments were expressed personally by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states, to Charles Ghislain, ambassador of Belgium to the Holy See.
 [Translation by ZENIT]

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