Home of retired archbishop searched in sex abuse case

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 Archbishop Godfried Danneels was suspected of abuse or had records pertaining to allegations against others.

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.

Police also searched the office of a committee that is investigating sexual abuse claims with help from the church. The committee has already opened 120 abuse cases but expects the number to double.

Police took documents, but did not question Archbishop Danneels at his home in Mechlin, north of Brussels, said Hans Geybels, his spokesman. "They did take away his computer," he said.

Archbishop Danneels was a leading liberal voice in Europe's church before he retired in January.

In April, Belgium's longest-serving bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned after admitting to having sexually abused a young boy during the time that Archbishop Danneels was archbishop. Mr Meilleur said the search was unrelated to the Vangheluwe case.

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