Pope responds to raid on Belgium's sex abuse commission

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The pope has responded directly to a raid last week against Belgium's Catholic church and its sex abuse commission. Police seized case files and computers, and evidently detained a number of bishops. The lay head of Beligium's independent sex abuse commission, Peter Adriaenssens, has resigned, saying he feels his work was used as "bait," presumably to gather evidence for the authorities. NCR has an interview with a Rik Devillè, a Belgian priest who has been documenting cases of sex abuse there; he argues that the raid is a good thing and accuses the Belgian bishops of years of cover up.

One has to admit a "raid" against church offices, including drilling into the tomb of a former cardinal, seems a bit extreme, especially when the purpose of the commission was to investigate and resolve outstanding claims of sex abuse. Unless there is evidence of ongoing criminal activity, it's hard to see why the Belgian authorities would have acted in this way.

One thing is for sure: The raid against the Catholic church and its bishops ups the ante in the European sex abuse crisis, and is a sign of how diminished the church's prestige is in Europe.