Pope Expels Two Chilean Bishops After Sexual Abuse Allegations

Chile (photo: Pixabay)
By Mei ManuelOctober 16th, 2018

Two Chilean bishops were defrocked this weekend after they were accused of molesting minors as Pope Francis tries to tackle the issue of church sexual abuse.

On Saturday, the Vatican announced that 84-year-old Francisco Jose Cox Huneeus, former archibishop emeritus of La Serena, and 53-year-old Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez, archbishop emeritus of Iquique, were expelled from the priesthood after local and Vatican investigations checked the evidences against them.

Defrocking is also known as being reduced to the lay state and it is considered as the harshest punishment the Church can inflict on a member of the clergy. Bishops are not usually subjected to defrocking unless due cause is identified.

It is said that the move likely emphasizes the future action against other guilty prelates, which may include former archbishop of Washington, D.C. Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick lost his title as a cardinal in July after a US Church investigation found "credible and substantiated" evidence regarding his involvement in a sexual abuse case decades ago. The Pope had ordered him to go to seclusion and live a life of prayer, retaining his title as an archbishop while the Vatican does its own investigations.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis had also defrocked Father Fernando Karadima, the most controversial Chilean priest who was accused of sexually abusing teenage boys through the years. His case had triggered a massive scandal in Chile and prompted all of the country's 34 bishops to offer their resignation to the pope last May. Seven resignations have currently been accepted.

The announcement came after the Pope's meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who was in the Vatican to discuss the crisis. In his statement with the press, Pinera said "We shared the hope that the Church may experience a renaissance and recuperate the affection, the closeness of the people of God, and can continue playing the important role that the Church plays in our country."

Investigations are still underway in Chile regarding the sexual abuse allegations involving church workers, which includes Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, the current archbishop of Santiago.

related articles