Papers of retired Belgian prelate seized
BRUSSELS — Police raided the home and office of the recently retired archbishop of Belgium yesterday, carrying off documents and a personal computer as part of an investigation into the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, officials said.
Police and prosecutors would not say if former Archbishop Godfried Danneels was suspected of abuse himself or simply had records pertaining to allegations against another person.
Separately, police seized the records of an independent panel investigating sexual abuse by priests, some 500 cases in all. The head of the panel called the raid a violation of the privacy of people — mostly men now in their 60s and 70s — who have lived with the shame of abuse.
The raids followed recent statements to police “that are related to the sexual abuse of children within the church,’’ said Jean-Marc Meilleur, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office. He would not offer specifics on the case.
Police took documents, but did not question Danneels at his home in the city of Mechlin, north of Brussels, said Hans Geybels, the spokesman for the former archbishop.
Geybels said Danneels was fully cooperating. “The cardinal believes justice must run its normal course. He has nothing against that,’’ he said.
Danneels was a leading liberal voice in Europe’s church before he retired in January.
But he returned to the limelight when, in late April, Belgium’s longest-serving bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned after admitting to having sexually abused a young boy during Danneels’s time as archbishop.