Chilean Father Fernando Karadima leaves after attending a 2015 hearing at the Supreme Court building in Santiago. A Sept. 28 Vatican statement said Pope Francis had expelled Karadima from the priesthood. CNS photo/Sebastian Silva, EPA

Pope Francis expels Chilean priest for abuse

  • September 30, 2018

VATICAN – Pope Francis expelled from the priesthood a Chilean who gained notoriety for sexually abusing young men in his parish.

In a Sept. 28 statement, the Vatican said that Fernando Karadima was dismissed from the clerical state by the Pope, who “made this exceptional decision in conscience and for the good of the Church.” Citing canon law, the Vatican said the Pope “exercised his ‘supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church’ aware of his service to the people of God as successor of St. Peter.”

Pope Francis signed the decree Sept. 27 and Karadima was informed of the decision the next day. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said it is a sign of the Pope’s “hard line against abuses.”

“We were in front of a very serious case of rot that needed to be yanked by its root,” Burke said. “This is an exceptional measure, without a doubt, but the serious crimes of Karadima have done exceptional damage in Chile.”

Known as an influential and charismatic priest, then-Fr. Karadima founded a Catholic Action group in a wealthy Santiago parish and drew hundreds of young men to the priesthood. Four of Karadima’s proteges went on to become bishops, including retired Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno.

However, several former seminarians of “El Bosque” revealed in 2010 that the Chilean priest sexually abused them and other members of the parish community for years. One year later, Karadima was sentenced by the Vatican to a life of prayer and penance after he was found guilty of sexual abuse.

The Pope, who initially defended his 2015 appointment of Barros as head of the Diocese of Osorno, apologized after receiving a 2,300-page report from Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. He subsequently accepted Barros’ resignation June 11.

In a letter released April 11, Francis said he had been mistaken in his assessment of the situation and he begged the forgiveness of survivors and others he offended.

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