Pope, Belgian archbishop discuss police raid

Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard and Pope Benedict.
Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard and Pope Benedict.


Pope Benedict XVI received in a private audience this Wednesday Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, who is also the president of the Belgian Episcopal Conference. In their conversation, the two discussed the recent Belgian police raid in the archdiocese.

The unscheduled meeting, the only private one held today by the Pontiff, lasted more than the usual and was dedicated to discussing “Operation Chalice,” the Belgian police raid that included holding all of the Belgian bishops for nine hours, the seizing of hundreds of documents and police drilling holes into the tombs of two deceased cardinals.

“There are more than sufficient motives for them to meet, I think,” Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office, told a group of journalists.

Asked later about details regarding Archbishop Leonard's encounter with Pope Benedict, Fr. Lombardi told reporters that “we have indicated it (in the official press bulletin) because it was important to note, but about the content, I think it's obvious: an interchange of information about the situation in Belgium, (and) to thank (Pope Benedict) for his support.”

Archbishop Leonard was in Rome along with 37 other metropolitan archbishops to receive the pallium during yesterday's Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

After last Thursday’s police raid, Archbishop Leonard condemned the search at Saint Rombout Cathedral, including the drilling into the tombs of the two deceased cardinals, saying that “this is stuff for crime novels and 'The Da Vinci Code'.”

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