Chilean court rules archdiocese liable in covering up abuse

A Chilean court has ruled the Archdiocese of Santiago prevented a thorough investigation into sexual abuses committed by a former priest, Fernando Karadima.

Survivors believe they have won a major victory in their quest for justice as the original lawsuit they brought before the court was dismissed five years ago.

However, new evidence obtained from raids conducted on the archdiocesan chancery proved that Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, the retired archbishop of Santiago, closed an investigation into Karadima.

The court was said to have awarded 450 million pesos ($661,000) in compensation for damages to Karadima’s victims.

In a press statement, abuse survivors Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo said that although the path to the verdict was long and full of difficulties, “it was worth it.

“The strategies of the Chilean church, especially Cardinals (Riccardo) Ezzati and Errazuriz, in covering up abuses, protecting abusers and silencing victims has received a strong response from Chilean courts.”

The survivors say both the Chilean courts and the Vatican are “on the same line to end the culture of abuse and cover-up of which the cardinals are faithful representatives.”

The court’s ruling centered on an email sent in 2009 by Cardinal Errazuriz to Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, the former apostolic nuncio to Chile.

In this, Errazuriz says he presented the accusations of abuse to the archdiocesan promotor of justice, the church’s canonical prosecutor, because “it usually calms the aggressiveness of the accusers.

“Out of respect for Father Karadima, I did not ask the prosecutor to interrogate him; I only asked (Auxiliary) Bishop Andres Arteaga for his opinion. He thought that everything was absolutely implausible. Considering the facts, I closed the investigation,” Errazuriz wrote.


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