Pope Francis defrocks two Chilean bishops over child sex abuse | News | DW | 13.10.2018
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Pope Francis defrocks two Chilean bishops over child sex abuse

The two bishops are the latest heads to roll over a child abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in Chile. The public firings are signs of a new transparency by the Vatican after years of cover-up claims.

Pope Francis has defrocked two Chilean bishops for the alleged sexual abuse of minors, the Vatican said in a statement on Saturday.

The decision to expel former archbishop Francisco Jose Cox Huneeus and former bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez was made public following a meeting between the head of the Catholic Church and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera at the Vatican.

The defrocking, officially called "reduced to the lay state," means the two men are no longer priests. It is the harshest punishment the Church can inflict on a member of the clergy.

No Church trial for the men

The statement added that the pair cannot appeal the decision, and that the evidence against them was so overwhelming that a canonical trial was unnecessary.

The Vatican also said the pope's private meeting with Pinera concentrated on "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."

Read more: Pope adviser urges rethink on Catholic celibacy

Huneeus, who was archbishop emeritus of the city of La Serena, and Fernández, archbishop emeritus of Iquique, are among 167 Chilean bishops, priests and lay members of the church who are accused of sexual crimes committed since 1960.

Saturday's announcement follows a similar defrocking last month of Father Fernando Karadima, an 88-year-old Chilean priest who sexually abused teenage boys over a period of many years.

Watch video 00:18

Pope Francis on sex abuse scandal

New approach by Vatican

The public statement suggests the Church is being more transparent in responding to the scandal, after having been previously accused of covering up the sexual abuse of minors by its clergy in several countries, including Chile, the US and Germany.

Read more:US cardinal resigns amid accusations of church sex abuse cover-up

Francis has repeatedly apologized over the scandal, admitting the church failed "to listen and react" to the allegations, while vowing to "restore justice."

In May, the Pope accepted the resignation of five other Chilean bishops amid accusations of abuse and related cover-ups.

mm/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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