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Friday, May 25, 2018

Church of Chile suspends 14 priests for alleged sexual abuse

Por Rory

The diocese of the city of Rancagua, in Chile, announced on Tuesday the suspension of 14 of its priests for allegedly being involved in crimes of sexual abuse. Through a communiqué, the diocese reported its opinion after the broadcast of a report from Channel 13 of Chile, which reported sexual abuse and improper conduct by a group of prelates from that city, located 90 kilometers south of Santiago. All of them would belong, according to the journalistic investigation, to a brotherhood called "La Familia". "14 priests have been restricted from their priestly ministry, which means that it has become known, mainly because of what has been said by the media, that these priests have committed actions that can constitute crimes in both the civil and canonical spheres ", Presbyter Marcelo Lorca said in the text, speaking on behalf of the Bishop of Rancagua, Alejandro Goic.

Among the announced determinations, it was pointed out that "both pastoral and judicial measures" have been adopted. He warned, however, that at the moment there is no record that the actions of the suspended priests are constitutive of crimes from the legal point of view. "That is why all the information that is possessed is being collated and the pastoral measures that are adopted will be related to it," he stressed. The presbyter Lorca explained that a complaint was made before the Santa Cruz City Prosecutor's Office with the information provided by the television channel and that all the information available to the diocese is available to the Prosecutor's Office.

In the broadcast of the television report, the priest Luis Rubio, of the municipality of Paredones, was interviewed by the images of strong sexual content that he sent to minors and that he himself admitted when confronted by the journalist. Given this, the diocese of Rancagua said today that from the moment that the denunciation against him is heard, in 2013, this priest has no role in the Church and that he submitted his resignation to the diaconate, all of his background in the Holy See.

The complainant, Elisa Fernandez said that she had delivered a list of the names of the priests involved to the bishop of Rancagua, Alejandro Goic, a year and a half ago, without the latter adopting any measure in this regard. In response, she decided to create an account on Facebook in which she pretended to be a 16-year-old boy and contacted one of the priests, the parish priest Luis Rubio Contreras, 54, who sent her messages of erotic content and photos of him naked. Goic apologized after the broadcast of the report for not having acted with due diligence after hearing the allegations of the girl.

In the report, Elisa Fernandez, former coordinator of youth ministry, reported that a dozen priests are part of a secret group calling themselves "La Familia" that in recent years has allegedly committed sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior against minors and youth. "We call on those who have information about events that do not depend on fidelity to the priesthood, to make them known to the respective instances of the Church," concludes the communiqué of the Diocese of Rancagua. On Tuesday, the Chilean Church reiterated its forgiveness to the public for the cases of sexual abuse committed for decades by the priest Fernando Karadima, after having put the positions of 34 bishops at the disposal of Pope Francis on a recent trip to Rome. "Once again we ask for forgiveness, I understand that many people do not give credit to the forgiveness we ask for and the pain we express, we will not regain confidence from one day to the next," the president of the Episcopal Conference, Santiago Silva, told in a news conference.

The Rancagua joins the wave of scandals for sexual abuse of minors in the Church of Chile. The Chilean bishops were summoned a few days ago by Pope Francis to the Vatican to address the silence of the South American Church in the face of the humiliations that Karadima committed, which were also allegedly silenced by some of his colleagues, such as the accused bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros. In this meeting, the 34 priests who attended Rome recognized "serious errors and omissions" when facing these situations, and decided to place their positions at Francisco's disposal, which will be evaluated during the next weeks by Francisco. The bishop of San Bernardo, Juan Ignacio González, explained to the journalists that the renounced priests continue for the moment "in full function", waiting for what the Pope decides.