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Latino Daily News

Tuesday February 22, 2011

Vatican Finds Chilean Priest Guilty of Sexual Abuse of Minors

Vatican Finds Chilean Priest Guilty of Sexual Abuse of Minors

Photo: Father Fernando Karadima

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

On behalf of the Vatican, Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago announced that an elderly reverend has been found guilty of sexually abusing minors in Chile.

Father Fernando Karadima, 80, has been ordered by the church to retired to a “life o prayer of penitence,” and has been moved to a place where he may have no contact with former parishioners or “person’s that have been spiritually guided by him.”

Last year, the accusations against Karadima shocked the predominantly Roman Catholic Chileans who saw him as a revered spiritual leader and father figure.

Karadima’s accusers saw at least some vindication in the church’s decision, but last year, a judge investigating the accusations against him had the case closed, and ruled that there was not enough evidence to charge the reverend. So while he has been found guilty by the church, Karadima has yet to be prosecuted criminally.

The Santiago appeals court is still deciding whether or not to reopen the criminal case, but the Vatican’s decision may push for the reopening.

Archbishop Ezzati said Karadima’s “punishment” from the Vatican took into consideration his age and felt it appropriate to subject him to “lifelong prohibition from the public exercise of any ministerial act, particularly confession and the spiritual guidance of any category of persons,” adding that he is forced to retire “to a life of prayer and penitence, also in reparation to the victims of his abuses.”

Should he violate these conditions, Karadima could face removal from the priesthood.

Karadima maintains his innocence and plans to appeal the Vatican’s decision. In accordance to the ruling, he has reportedly already retired to a religious convent in Santiago.