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Friday, May 25, 2018

Fourteen priests suspended in Chile for allegations of sexual abuse

Por MRod

Fourteen priests have been suspended after the complaint of sexual abuse and improper behavior, as reported this afternoon by the diocese to which the religious belong, that of Rancagua, about 100 kilometers south of the Chilean capital. Along with pastoral measures, the Chilean Church has delivered the information available to the Prosecutor's Office.

"These priests have incurred in actions that can constitute crimes in both civil and canonical terms," the Diocese of Rancagua said in a statement. It is a brotherhood of priests who called themselves The Family. It had a pyramidal structure and, to identify its hierarchy, they used female kinship. The organization was led by the Grandmother, followed by aunts, daughters and granddaughters. The case was denounced by Canal 13, which revealed the testimony of Elisa Fernández, a former Church collaborator for nearly 14 years. According to the witness, the religious used to make sexual jokes and comments on preferences for minors. "I do not know whether to call it a brotherhood, sect, or group of priests who have practices that do not involve themselves as priests and with respect to young people, at least in my time, between 15 and 29 years old," Fernández told Chilean TV.

Canal 13 reported that the complainant opened a Facebook account last September, passed herself off as a child under 16 and contacted one of the parish priests of La Familia, Luis Rubio, from the municipality of Paredones. According to what El País publishes, they had conversations of sexual connotation and the religious sent her nude photos, which were published in the report. "Yes, that's true, but I also cut all that. It was an error and I admit it," said the aforementioned, who confessed to feel "a horrible shame." A year and a half ago, Fernández tried to get the local Church authorities to listen to her.

In this period, on four occasions she denounced the facts before the Bishop of Rancagua, Alejandro Goic, according to the Canal 13 program. But Goic asked her for evidence, as Pope Francis did in January when he was asked by the Bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros, and his role as the cover of Fernando Karadima, the influential priest who abused for years at least three young people from conservative families. "I want to apologize for my actions in this case," Goic acknowledged after the television complaint. "I acknowledge that I welcomed this young woman who appears in the report and that I acted without the appropriate agility in the investigation process of the priest Luis Rubio and other priests mentioned by her." The scandal exploded a few days after the Chilean bishops returned to the South American country from Rome questioned by the handling of such cases and just when the Pope assesses who will continue in office and who should leave the Church.