La Oferta

April 1, 2023

Abuse victims brand Chilean bishops a band of criminals

Santiago, Jan 2 (EFE).- Two men who have accused influential Chilean priest Fernando Karadima of sexual abuse on Wednesday in Santiago branded the country’s bishops a “band of criminals,” some of whom have been named by the current commission investigating the matter as having covered up hundreds of such cases now facing the Catholic Church.

“What we have in Chile is a real band of criminal bishops. This Episcopal Conference (CECh) and these cardinals are a band of criminals,” said journalist Juan Carlos Cruz, one of Karadima’s victims.

Cruz, along with Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton – the latter of whom could not attend the gathering on Wednesday – shared with foreign reporters accredited in Chile their impressions one year after they brought to light the events within the heart of the clergy over decades.

Cruz was referring in particular to the main representatives of the CECh: president Santiago Silva, the general secretary of the canonical institution in the South American nation; Bishop Fernando Ramos; and Santiago Archbishop Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, all of whom have been indicted or who are being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office for covering up the crimes.

“Imagine the bouquet of withered and wretched flowers that we have that Chile can offer. (Santiago Archbishop Emeritus) Ezzati indicted, they’re going to indict (Javier) Errazuriz soon, Silva … indicted, and the list goes on,” Cruz said.

Along those lines, he said that none of the Church figures “are learning anything” amid the Chilean Church’s worst crisis after numerous cases of abuse all around the country were revealed.

“They’re arrogant and elitist people who believe they’re living in a world where human beings like us don’t live. It’s a real shame, the bishops we have, and this (causes) suffering for the pope,” he said.

As officials within the Attorney General’s Office told EFE, as of Nov. 5 there had been 139 investigations opened implicating 190 people linked with the Catholic Church and involving 245 victims.

Cruz and Murillo spoke of the role they played in the beginning with their accusations, emphasizing the meeting the three men had with Pope Francis when they were invited to his residence.

“For me, the relationship we’ve been able to establish with the pope has been tremendously healing because since we were being slandered a year ago we decided to go and listen to what he had to say to us and we spent a week living with him at Santa Marta at his house and speaking with him for hours,” Cruz said.

“This has been a battle, not against the Church, but a battle against abuse, … against the culture of abuse and, probably, it’s never going to end because it seems that the structure of human beings is the structure of abuse,” Murillo added.

Both men said they were “proud” to have “cleared the way” for many other victims of abuse in Chile to come forward.

To date, Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of seven bishops, after which 34 members of the CECh offered him their resignations after being cited by the Vatican and acknowledging before the pontiff that they had committed “serious errors and omissions.”

In addition, Francis has expelled from the clergy two former bishops and two priests, including Karadima, who was condemned in 2011 under canon law to spend the rest of his life in seclusion and penitence for raping and sexually abusing minors in Chile.