The Belgian Catholic bishops' conference has welcomed judicial condemnation of a 2010 police raid on the cathedral and residence of Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Mechelen-Brussels.
The pope's German biographer said when he met with the pope last year, Benedict was "drained of energy" and "deeply disheartened."
Belgium's Mechelen-Brussels archdiocese has become Europe's latest to plan church closures in the face of declining Catholic participation.
An archdiocesan official told the German Catholic news agency KNA that "dozens of churches" faced closing and that the city's largest Catholic landmark, St. Catherine Church, was expected to be turned into a fruit and vegetable market.
A Catholic bishop in war-torn Mali whose diocese lies in the path of Islamic insurgents said "people are hiding in their homes, unable to venture out."
Bishop Augustin Traore of Segou, Mali, told Catholic News Service by telephone: "Although our churches are still intact, people are becoming afraid to enter them. Our entire Catholic culture will clearly be in danger if this conflict drags on.