The Pope has called the raids carried out by Belgian police investigating sex abuse by priests "deplorable" and asserted the autonomy of the Catholic Church to investigate abuse alongside civil law enforcement authorities.
The Pope issued a message to the head of the Belgian bishops' conference, Monsignor Andre-Joseph Leonard. In it, he expressed solidarity with all Belgian bishops for the "surprising and deplorable way" in which Thursday's raids were carried out.
He said justice must take its course. But he also repeated that such crimes are handled by both civil and canon law "respecting their reciprocal specificity and autonomy".
The raids targeted a retired archbishop and the graves of two prelates.