ROME – According to the latest count by the Chilean national prosecutor’s office, some 221 priests and 8 bishops are being investigated up and down the country on charges of sexual abuse and cover-up, all due to allegations made from the year 2000 to date.
In the total is Fernando Karadima, the country’s most infamous predator priest, who was removed from the clerical state by Pope Francis on Thursday in an “exceptional” decision communicated by the Vatican on Friday, the same day the man who once led an impressive lay movement in Santiago was informed.
Karadima had been found guilty by the Vatican in 2011, but instead of being removed from the priesthood at that time was sentenced to a life of penance and prayer.
To put the ongoing crisis of the Chilean Church in perspective, information gathered in three raids on two dioceses- Rancagua and Santiago- led prosecutor Emiliano Arias to open 70 investigations in the last three months. All of them, according to La Tercera, are against members of the Chilean bishops’ conference who allegedly had knowledge of abuses committed by clerics.
Among the things being investigated, according to these reports, is if these bishops tried to quiet victims so they wouldn’t go to civil authorities.
In a letter he gave to the Chilean bishops in May when he summoned them to Rome, Francis wrote that an investigation by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu had showed mishandling of allegations, because “in not a few cases” grave indications of a crime “were superficially labeled as improbable.”
In late May, every Chilean bishop presented his resignation to Francis, who’s accepted seven of them since and who’s expected to accept more.
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