Belgian abuse raid on tombs angers Vatican

25th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Belgian police investigating child sex abuse searched a cathedral crypt where two archbishops are buried, officials confirmed Friday after the Vatican protested at the raids.

The Vatican accused Belgian investigators of violating the tombs during the raids Thursday.

"All I can say is that a vault was opened," during the investigation into new paedophilia claims, prosecutor's office spokeswoman Estelle Arpigny told AFP.

Father Eric De Beukelaer, spokesman for the Mechelen-Brussels archbishop, said "the tombs of Cardinals Suenens and Van Roey were drilled and a camera was pushed into them apparently to see whether there were any hidden documents," linked to paedophilia claims.

The Vatican reacted indignantly to the report.

It voiced "astonishment over how the searches were carried out yesterday by Belgian judicial authorities and its indignation over the violation of the graves of the cardinals Jozef-Ernest Van Roey and Leon-Joseph Suenens."

The head of the Roman Catholic church in Belgium, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, said he was "slightly surprised" at the raids in which the authorities had shown "perhaps excessive zeal."

"The justice system does its work and it has the right to carry out searches. Nonetheless I find it slightly surprising that it went as far as rummaging around the tombs of bishops and that all the bishops were held until evening," the archbishop told reporters in Brussels Friday.

© 2010 AFP

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