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Belgian government defends raid of bishops’ meeting

Catholic World News - June 29, 2010

Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere defended an aggressive police raid of a bishops’ meeting during an investigation of the clerical abuse scandal. The Vatican and the Belgian bishops have angrily protested two aspects of the search: the violation of the tombs of two deceased archbishops and the seizure of confidential files from the Church-authorized investigating commission.

“It’s good to [keep in mind] very important principles of the state of law. [There are] very elementary principles of having a separation of powers and accepting that the judiciary has to do its work,” said Mr. Vanackere. “That’s crucial for every democratic state.”

Godelieve Halsberghe, a former head of the Belgian bishops’ investigating commission, told a Flemish newspaper that she may have prompted the raid. After receiving a threatening telephone call, she told police that the Belgian Church officials might be hiding abuse files from investigators.

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