Pope defrocks 2 more Chilean priests accused of sex abuse

Pope Francis delivers his message on the occasion of his weekly general audience in St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Saturday defrocked two more Chilean prelates accused of sexually abusing minors, and to show greater transparency about how he’s responding to the church’s global sex abuse crisis, the pontiff publicly explained why they were removed.

The Vatican’s unusually detailed statement announcing the laicization of Jose Cox Huneeus and Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez signaled a new degree of transparency following past missteps that appeared to underestimate the gravity of the scandal.

Explaining the latest removals as Chile’s church is called to account for decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups, the statement made clear the two were defrocked for abusing minors with evidence so overwhelming that a canonical trial was unnecessary.

The Vatican said the move could not be appealed.

Previously, the Vatican has rarely, if ever, announced laicizations of individual priests and only issued a single-line statement if a bishop had resigned, without further explanation. Before Francis’ papacy it was practice to reveal if resignations were retirements due to age, or for some other ‘grave’ reason that made them unfit for office.

Advocates for abuse survivors have long complained about the Vatican’s secrecy in handling such abuse cases, and the lack of transparency when arrived at judgments.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Saturday’s more detailed statement suggested a new trend in the way the Vatican will announce results of investigations of bishops accused of abuse.

The issue of church sex abuse came up in a papal audience earlier Saturday with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera Echenique, who also met with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Vatican said both meetings discussed “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.”

Recently Francis has removed two other Chilean prelates and denied them a chance to appeal, in a sign that he now understands that some abusers cannot remain in the priesthood for the good of the church.

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  • It says prelates, so were they bishops or were they priests. I realize bishops are priests, but this is confusing terminology for those of us who aren’t Roman Catholic.

  • It gives you some sense of the really awful reporting from secular news services, in this case Associated Press, on religious matters.

  • This sure does raise a lot more questions than it answers.

    Starting with so much, such overwhelming evidence, that there won’t even be a canonical trial.

    There’s so much evidence? So much that it has taken years even to defrock them, which is basically fifty lashes with a damp surplice? So much evidence that appeared in a lump sum, so to speak, as if hand delivered by a mafia boss? Or perhaps as if by magic? Because that would be the only thing that could explain the years it took, though those years would seem to beg the question of why it was such common knowledge that the Vatican was unaware of it.

    I think I am getting pretty fluent in churchspeak. “No canonical trials” means that the corruption and abuse reaches far further than just these two perverts, and the Holy See-not would prefer that this corruption, and the obvious failure of morality, Ethics, decency, and administration that alllowed it to continue for years, not become public knowledge, which it inevitably will if there’s a trial, even a private one.

    There is transparency here, all right, just not the one Frank means,

  • You’re right that not even holding a trial is unusual. The need for such things is often cited as the reason why some clergy have been left on the rolls and not defrocked. In practice, it is such a long procedure that defrockings usually are done only if the priest consents to it. 

    So yeah, something about these cases must exude a pretty powerful stench, if they’re not even going to hold canonical trials. 

    There’s another angle, though, and that is that this happened around the time of the Chilean president’s visit. That cannot be a coincidence. The Chilean government has been digging around into the details of quite a number of these cases. I wonder if these sudden defrockings might have been issued with that in mind. A lot might have been uncovered that the Pope hopes the government won’t release. 

  • We understand that you love pedophilia and watching pedophiles get away with their crimes.

  • Sorry it took a few days for me to get back to you. We have been on a big family trip, out in the boonies. Internet has been very spotty, and my time is filled with Germans.

    It yes. I think there are wheels within wheels on so much of what is happening, and by all means, power, money, dominion must be preserved.