Police in Belgium have carried out major raids on the Catholic Church as part of an investigation into sex abuse.
Detectives seized computers and files at the church’s central administrative offices at Mechelen-Brussels.
Allegations of sex abuse have affected several European countries in the last year.
A spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor said the raids were an attempt to verify allegations contained in files that had recently arrived at the prosecutor’s office concerning the abuse of minors by a number of members of the clergy.
Officers also searched the home of Cardinal Godfried Daneels and confiscated his computer. The former head of the Belgian church stepped down in January.
But those in charge of an independent commission into abuse in Belgium were furious that their files were also seized.
“This work is completely destroyed even if the documents are returned tomorrow,” said its president, Peter Adriaenssens. “What should I say to a victim who tells me they want to speak to me confidentially? How can I guarantee that? At the moment I don’t know.”
He said of the 500 people who had contacted the commission, only 100 wanted their claims taken to the police.