Police search Belgian archbishop's home in sex abuse investigation

.- On Thursday, Belgian police searched the homes of Archbishop André-Mutien Léonard of Mechelen-Brussels and retired Archbishop Godfried Danneels following recent allegations of sex abuse by clergy members in the country.

According to Agence France Presse, nearly 30 members of the police force sealed off the home of Archbishop Léonard on Thursday.  Officers were also seen carrying a computer and documents after searching the home and office of retired Archbishop Danneels.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Hans Geybels, spokesman for Archbishop Danneels confirmed that police did not question the retired prelate.  He added that Archbishop Danneels is fully cooperating, noting that he “believes justice must run its normal course. He has nothing against that.”

Spokesman for Brussels prosecutor's office, Jean-Marc Meilleur remarked that the police conducted the raids “to collect evidence to shed light” on recent clerical sex abuse allegations.

The AP also reported that police also conducted a search on a committee office that is investigating sexual abuse claims in the Catholic Church.

Last April the country was focused on sex abuse by clergy members when Belgian Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe submitted his resignation to the Holy Father after admitting to the sexually abusing  a minor.

At the time, Archbishop Leonard also released a statement speaking of the "particularly serious situation" the Church is facing and promised to provide transparency.

The archbishop said that it's time to "turn the page" from the time in which the Church "preferred the 'solution' of silence and of covering up."

Then in May, the Belgian bishops released a statement pledging to take action to confront the situation through "concrete measures, with the support of Benedict XVI.” They also vowed to create more stringent entrance requirements for candidates to the priesthood, to commit themselves to providing effective supervision and support to pastoral workers and to draft a code of ethics for those who work with children or vulnerable adults.


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