A Chilean court declared Friday that a former bishop who had a homosexual relationship with an altar boy was innocent of committing sexual abuse.
The appeals court concluded that there was no evidence that Rev. Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez, formerly the bishop of Iquique, abused his eventual lover when the boy was underage, according to the Associated Press. Ordenes admitted to committing an “imprudent act” with the boy, and Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation from the position of bishop in 2012.
Rodrigo Pino, Ordenes’ lover, alleged that the then-bishop forced him into sexual acts when he was 15 and served as an altar boy, but that he and Ordenes later developed a consensual relationship. Ordenes, in contrast, asserted that he met the boy in 1999 when he was 17 and that while did engage in a homosexual relationship, the boy was no longer underage at that point.
Ordenes’ case was one of many instances of alleged sexual abuse of children by Chilean Catholic leaders that stirred the ire of the Chilean people for years. Crowds protested the Church’s handling of sex abuse cases during Francis’ visit to Chile in mid January and expressed outrage, particularly over Francis’ appointment of Juan Barros as the bishop of Osornos. Sex abuse survivors believed that Barros knew of the abuse that Rev. Fernando Karadima committed against many children and that Barros did nothing about it.
Francis apologized to the Chilean people for the crimes of sexual abuse against children, but defended Barros and declared that those who accused him were slanderers — comments for which Francis later apologized while still defending Barros.
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