Searches of Belgian Church Property Continue

By Don Melvin
Associated Press
January 17, 2012

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) Belgian authorities searched the administrative offices of the bishops of Bruges and Ghent on Tuesday, a day after raiding similar offices in three other cities as they investigated whether church officials protected child abusers instead of their victims.

Peter Rossel, a spokesman for Jozef de Kessel, the Bishop of Bruges, 60 miles (96 kilometers) northwest of Brussels, confirmed that a search had taken place there. He said the church was cooperating fully with the investigation.

Koen Vlaeminck, a spokesman for the church in Ghent, told The Associated Press that authorities had arrived at church offices with a request for files relating to 13 specific individuals. He said the church had cooperated, and had been allowed to retain copies of the files.

On Monday, authorities searched church offices in Hasselt, Mechelen and Antwerp. A judicial official close to the investigation told the AP on Monday the investigation, called "Operation Chalice," could result in charges against church officials. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.








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