- Pope Francis invoked his authority to defrock Rev. Fernando Karadima, the most prolific clerical abuser of children in Chile to date
- The Vatican did not announce any new evidence that led to the decision, though the move came shortly after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano accused the pontiff yet again of covering up sex abuse allegations
- A victim of Karadima who met with Francis earlier in 2018 lauded the decision as potential relief to thousands of abuse survivors
Pope Francis invoked his “supreme” authority Friday and defrocked Chile’s most prolific clerical abuser of children, one day after being accused again of cover-ups.
The Vatican issued a statement saying that Francis had defrocked Rev. Fernando Karadima, increasing Karadima’s previous 2011 penalty of being sentenced to a life of penance and prayer after being found guilty of sexually abusing minors in Santiago. The Vatican did not clarify if any new evidence concerning Karadima’s abuses prompted the decision, but the move came one day after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano published a second letter accusing the pontiff of actively covering for and enabling the abusive behavior of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. (RELATED: Vigano Speaks Out For First Time Since Accusing Pope, Says Francis Is Guilty Of Slander)
Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Karadima, lauded the decision. Cruz met with Francis when the Vatican dealt with the fallout of an investigation of the Chilean church’s sexual abuse scandal.
Our abuser Karadima defrocked. I have a knot in my stomach. Never thought I’d see this day. A criminal who has ruined so many people’s lives with his abuse. I thank Pope Francis @Pontifex for doing this. I hope thousands of survivors feel a bit of the relief I feel today. pic.twitter.com/LhO1iSR2Uc
— Juan Carlos Cruz Ch. (@jccruzchellew) September 28, 2018
“The Holy Father has made this exceptional decision in conscience and for the good of the Church,” a statement from the Vatican, issued in Spanish, reads according to Vatican News.
“He has exercised his ‘ordinary power, which is supreme, full, immediate, and universal in the Church,’ conscious of his service to the people of God as the successor of St Peter,” the statement added.
The Chilean sex abuse scandal marked a major crisis for Francis’ papacy, as parishioners complained for years about the appointment of Bishop Juan Barros, Karadima’s understudy, who they claimed was complicit in Karadima’s abuses.
Francis decried those allegations as”calumny” and claimed that no victims had come forward with credible accusations. Cruz then claimed that he had listed credible accusations in a letter which he delivered to the head of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, who said he had delivered it to Francis in 2015.
Vatican investigators later delivered a 2,300 page report to Pope Francis, detailing what the pontiff described as grave negligence on behalf of Chile’s entire bishopric and a culture of cover-up and widespread abuse throughout the country. In a historic move, all of the country’s bishops tendered their resignations to Francis following an emergency summit with the pontiff concerning the report.
Francis promised the Chilean faithful that they would “never again” be subjected to such abuses and cover-ups, and apologized for his self acknowledged role in the pain and shame they endured.
The Church has since been rocked by massive abuse scandals in the U.S., Ireland, and Germany, which some say indicates that the problem is global rather than particular to certain countries. On top of this, Francis and at least 32 other high ranking church officials face accusations that they actively contributed to the cover-ups concerning McCarrick’s alleged abuse of seminarians and the credible allegation that he abused a teenage boy.
Francis has refused to answer these accusations, the latest of which Archbishop Vigano published Thursday, demanding that Cardinal Marc Oullett release documents proving his allegations. Vigano also accused Francis of “subtle slander,” and said that his refusal to address the allegations, even to deny them, was further evidence of his guilt.
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