When the present pope, Benedict XVI (a.k.a. Joseph Ratzinger), made the statement "I hope that justice will follow its course while guaranteeing the rights of individuals and institutions, respecting the rights of victims," he wasn't -- unfortunately -- talking about the victims of sexual abuse of children by priests, documented in many countries, but the people he regarded as 'victims' were the bishops taken into custody by Belgian police as part of a police raid in order to uncover who did what, or who knew about it.
The above quote from the pontiff has been published by the BBC
, in an article that speaks of the pope's anger at raids of church offices and institutions in Belgium Digital Journal has previously reported
. In short, Belgian authorities last week raided church offices and a crypt, confiscated a computer and detained a few church officials in an attempt to find evidence of sexual abuses possibly perpetrated by Roman Catholic priest, or of knowledge about such offenses that may have been kept secret by the church.
The pope has called this a "moment of sadness", and he expressed his solidarity with the Belgian church and its officials - which he thinks have been maltreated. The pope's precise statement concerning this "deplorable" incident can be found on the BBC website, where he is quotes as saying:
"I want to express, dear brother in the Episcopate, as well as to all the Bishops of Belgium, my closeness and solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, searches were carried out."
is a surprising term to use for a police investigation looking for evidence of child abuse or related cover-ups, and the words of Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, show even more how the church hierarchy seems to think that it is above the law. Cardinal Bertone described the detention of priests as "serious and unbelievable" and also said that "There are no precedents, not even under the old communist regimes." He even alleged that the Belgian bishops were left - in Guantanamo style - without food or drink all day, although this was denied in a rather robust speech by the Belgian justice minister who stated that the bishops were treated completely normally during the raid on the archdiocese.
To be treated normal, however, seems not what the Vatican expects for members of its elite.