Pope de­frocks 2 Chilean bish­ops for sex abuse

Kuwait Times - - International -

VAT­I­CAN CITY: Pope Fran­cis has de­frocked two Chilean bish­ops for the al­leged sex­ual abuse of mi­nors, the Vat­i­can said in a state­ment yes­ter­day 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”.

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. Yes­ter­day, 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. Pope Fran­cis has al­ready apol­o­gized 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. — AFP


VAT­I­CAN CITY: Chile’s Pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Pin­era (left) and his wife Ce­cilia Morel ex­change gifts with Pope Fran­cis dur­ing a pri­vate au­di­ence at the Vat­i­can yes­ter­day.

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