SANTIAGO – The Chilean Catholic church suspended on Tuesday 14 priests from the Diocese of the city of Rancagua, close to the Chilean capital, for allegedly being involved in child sex abuse.
The diocese announced its decision in a statement after Chilean TV channel T13 on Friday had leaked a confidential 10-page document uncovering sexual abuse and improper conduct by a group of prelates from Rancagua City, located 90 kilometers south of Santiago.
According to the journalist’s investigation, all of the priests belong to a brotherhood called “La Familia.”
“14 priests have been restricted from their priestly ministry. This means that it has been revealed, mainly by what the media exposed, that these priests have committed actions that can constitute crimes in both the civil and canonical spheres,” Father Marcelo Lorca said in a statement on behalf of the Bishop of Rancagua, Alejandro Goic.
It was also pointed out that “both pastoral and judicial measures” have been adopted.
However, Father Lorca warned that at the moment there is no conclusive record that the actions of the suspended priests constitute crimes from the legal point of view.
He explained that a complaint was made to the Santa Cruz city Prosecutor’s Office with the information provided by the television channel, and that all the information available to the Diocese will be made available to the Prosecutor’s Office.
“We urge those who have information about the incidents that are not consistent with fidelity to the priesthood to make them known to the respective authorities of the Church,” the statement of the Diocese of Rancagua concluded.
The Diocese of Rancagua’s decision was announced hours after the president of the Episcopal Conference, Santiago Silva, reiterated an apology and asked for forgiveness from the public for the sexual abuse of minors that priest Fernando Karadima had allegedly committed for decades.
Pope Francis summoned the Chilean bishops a few days ago to the Vatican to tackle the South American Church’s muted response to the Karadima’s scandal, which was also allegedly silenced by some of his colleagues, such as the Bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros.
In that meeting, 34 Chilean priests who went to the Vatican acknowledged “serious errors and omissions” in dealing with these situations, and decided to make their positions available to Pope Francis, which will be evaluated by the Pope in the coming weeks.