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Pope meets with head of Belgian church after police raid

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday met with Andre-Joseph Leonard, the head of the Belgian church, after police raided a bishops’ meeting as part of a paedophilia probe.

The Vatican’s spokesman Federico Lombardi told journalists the meeting regarded “new on the situation in Belgium.”

The pope, who accused Belgian police on Sunday of using “deplorable methods” during the raid, met privately with the archbishop of Brussel-Mechelen before holding his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

Brussels said the Vatican was over-reacting.

On Sunday, the pontiff wrote a message of support to Leonard over the raid in which senior clergy were detained for questioning.

“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 including in the Mechelen cathedral and in the premises where the Belgian episcopate was meeting in plenary session,” the pope said on Sunday.

Thursday’s raids were prompted by new claims of child abuse by members of the Catholic Church in Belgium, one of the countries worst hit by recent revelations of paedophilia by priests in Europe and North America.