Pope Benedict denounced yesterday as “surprising and deplorable” raids by Belgian police on church offices and the home of a cardinal this week during an investigation into pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests.

In a letter to the head of the Belgian bishops conference, Benedict expressed his “solidarity” after Thursday’s search of two church offices and the home of a former archbishop, during which computers and files were removed and at least one tomb was opened.

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.


“At this sad time, I wish to express ... my closeness and solidarity for the surprising and deplorable ways in which the searches were carried out,” the pope said in his message.

“I hope that justice will follow its course while guaranteeing the rights of individuals and institutions, respecting the victims, (and) acknowledging those who undertake to collaborate,” Benedict added.

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