On Saturday morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone stated that the way Belgian judicial and police forces carried out a raid on the retired Archbishop of Brussels and the archdiocese's office had "no precedents even in communist regimes."
Searching for dossiers on cases of pedophilia, the police went so far as to break open the tombs of Cardinals Jozef-Ernest Van Roey and Leon-Josephy Suenens with pneumatic hammers. The Belgian police also prevented bishops and others in a meeting at the archdiocesan offices from leaving the meeting room for nine hours.
Away from the podium of a conference of university professors in Rome where he made a presentation on Saturday morning, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was asked for comment on the recent search of Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard's offices in Mechelen.
He called the lockdown "a kidnapping, a grave and inconceivable fact," according to L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semi-official newspaper.
"There are no precedents even in communist regimes," he said of the methods used during the search, which saw the authorities confiscate confidential files collected by the archdiocesan-sponsored commission investigating the matters.
Repeating the condemnation of the Church for acts of sexual abuse against minors, Cardinal Bertone expressed his regret that they were allowed neither food nor water during the entirety of the search.