Pope Dismisses Two Chilean Bishops For Sex Abuse Of Minors

Pope Francis                                                                                                                          Tiziana FABI / AFP


Pope Francis has defrocked two Chilean bishops for the alleged sexual abuse of minors, the Vatican said in a statement on Saturday after a meeting between the pontiff and the president of Chile.

The decision to expel former archbishop Francisco Jose Cox Huneeus and former bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez — the latest heads to roll in a country hit hard by the cleric abuse scandal — could not be appealed, it said.

Both were stripped of their priesthood “as a consequence of overt acts of abuse against minors”.

The announcement came a day after the pope accepted the resignation of Washington DC Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who has been blamed for not doing enough to deal with paedophile priests.

Saturday’s defrocking was “an extremely unusual, if not unprecedented” move, said Ines San Martin, a Vatican expert writing in the Crux specialist Catholic website.

Defrocking is considered the harshest penalty for priests within the Church and means the offender is forbidden from exercising any clerical duties at all, even in private.

Scores of new cases of priestly sexual abuse of minors have come to light in Chile, deepening a crisis in the Roman Catholic church that has also embroiled Pope Francis.

On Saturday, Francis met with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera at the Vatican for talks on the “difficult situation” in Chile.

They discussed “the painful scourge of abuse of minors, reiterating the effort of all in collaboration to combat and prevent the perpetration of such crimes and their concealment”, the Vatican said.

The leaders “shared the hope that the church could live a true rebirth,” Pinera said in a statement.

A total of 167 bishops, priests and lay members of the church are now under investigation for sexual crimes committed in the South American country since 1960.

 Investigation ongoing 

Fernandez became a bishop at the age of 42 in 2006, but resigned just six years later, allegedly for health reasons.

It later transpired that he had been accused of sexual abuse, sparking both a church and a civil investigation.

“The civil investigation is still ongoing because he’s never responded to a court subpoena to give testimony,” Vatican expert San Martin said.

Fernandez was last seen in public in 2013 and had reportedly been living a life of penitence and prayer in Peru, she said.

Cox has long been the object of abuse allegations dating back to the 1970s.

The Vatican on Saturday said he would remain a part of the Institute of the Schoenstatt Fathers in Germany.

The prelate, now 85 and reportedly in precarious health, has resided in the institute since 2002, San Martin said.

Pope Francis has already apologised repeatedly to Chileans over the scandal, admitting the church failed “to listen and react” to the allegations, but vowed to “restore justice”.

In May, the Argentine pontiff accepted the resignation of five Chilean bishops amid accusations of abuse and related coverups.

Francis himself became mired in the scandal when, during a trip to Chile in January, he defended 61-year-old bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of covering up abuse by paedophile priest Fernando Karadima in the 1980s and 1990s.

Karadima was suspended for life by the Vatican over the allegations of child molestation.

Francis eventually accepted he was wrong to defend Barros and subsequently accepted his resignation.


Pope Accepts Resignations Of More Chilean Bishops


Pope Francis Friday accepted the resignations of two more bishops from Chile, which is investigating cases of sexual abuse by the clergy, the Vatican said.

Chilean prosecutors said last month they were looking into 119 cases related to the sexual abuse of minors since 1960, adding that 167 bishops, priests and lay members of the Catholic Church were being investigated.


Pope Accepts Resignation Of Two More Chilean Bishops After Sex Scandal

Pope Francis In 10 Quotes
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis gestures during a news conference. Photo: Vincenzo PINTO / AFP


Pope Francis accepted the resignation of two more Chilean bishops following a child sex abuse scandal that has gripped the Latin American nation.

The Vatican announced the resignation of the bishop of Rancagua, 78-year-old Alejandro Goic Karmelic and the bishop of Talca, Horacio del Carmen Valenzuela Abarca, 64.

Several senior members of Chile’s Catholic Church are accused by victims of ignoring and covering up child abuse by paedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.

The entire Chilean delegation of bishops tendered its resignation to the pope in May after a series of meetings at the Vatican.

Earlier this month, Francis accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops, including the controversial Juan Barros who Karadima’s victims accuse of covering up wrongdoing.

The pontiff himself became mired in the scandal when, during a trip to Chile in January, he defended Barros. However the pope later apologised to Karadima’s victims accuse of covering up wrongdoing.

The pontiff himself became mired in the scandal when, during a trip to Chile in January, he defended Barros. However the pope later apologised to Karadima’s victims and said he had made “grave mistakes”.


Pope Receives Chilean Bishops Over Sex Abuse Scandal

Pope Francis                                                                                                               VINCENZO PINTO / AFP


Pope Francis began receiving Chilean bishops at the Vatican on Tuesday in a bid to address a child abuse scandal within the Church in Chile that has come to haunt his papacy.

The 34 bishops, three of whom are already retired, are to hold private and group meetings with the Argentine pontiff between Tuesday and Thursday.

“Firstly, we want to share our pain and shame,” said Bishop Fernando Ramos, a spokesman for the Chilean delegation.

“Pain because there are victims of sex abuse, and shame because these abuses occurred within the Church,” he told reporters.

The visit comes two weeks after Francis held private meetings with three victims of Chilean paedophile priest Fernando Karadima, and promised to adopt “adequate and lasting” measures to stop child sex abuse within the Catholic church.

Karadima was forced into retirement in 2011 after eventually being found by the Holy See to have been a serial abuser of minors during the 1980s and 1990s.

Controversial cardinal Javier Errazuriz, a key advisor to Francis, was also summoned as part of the Chilean delegation at the pontiff’s request.

Errazuriz is accused by Karadima’s victims of ignoring and helping to cover up the abuses committed by Karadima.

Major shakeup? 

In a statement, the Vatican said Francis believed it was “necessary to examine in depth the causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that have led, in certain cases, to concealment and serious omissions towards the victims.”

Speaking to reporters, Bishop Ignacio Gonzalez said: “The main focus is the victims, we can always make amends and move towards reconciliation with them.”

The unprecedented summoning of the Chilean delegation is also a chance for Francis to repair some of the damage done during his visit to Chile in January, when his defence of controversial Chilean bishop Juan Barros caused a public outcry.

The pontiff strongly defended Barros, who was also accused of covering up Karadima’s abuses, saying that he was convinced of his innocence and demanding “proof” before he would speak out against him.

He later apologised to the victims, admitting he had made “grave mistakes” after reading a 2,300-page report on the abuse in Chile.

Experts and sources within Chilean church suggested the pope could remove Barros from his duties and set in motion a major shake-up of the church hierarchy within the Latin American nation.