Vatican: Belgian raid 'unprecented'

26 June 2010 - 16:35 By Sapa-AP

The Vatican's No. 2 official says raids carried out by Belgian police investigating sex abuse allegations are unprecedented even under communism.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, said Saturday that the raids were "an unheard-of and grave fact," according to the ANSA and Apcom news agencies. He lamented that officials had been held for several hours without food or drink.

He reportedly said that "there are no precedents, not even in Communist regimes."

This week, police raided the home and former office of the recently retired archbishop of Belgium. Investigators also opened the graves of two archbishops.

On Friday, a Vatican statement expressed astonishment and outrage.