VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has expelled Cardinal Francisco Errázuriz from his circle of close advisors. The move comes as response to accusations that Errázuriz was covering up massive child abuse by priest Fernando Karadima, a case that has shocked and rocked Chile since 2010. Cardinal George Pell also had to leave the group as he is accused of having abused children in Australia.
Francisco Javier Errázuriz is no longer part of Pope Francis’ advisor group called C-9. Pope Francis expulsed Errázuriz due to the Karadima case, in which priest Fernando Karadima sexually abused minors over several decades, and which Errázuriz allegedly helped covering up. The C-9 is a cardinal council that handles church reforms and advises Pope Francis on Catholic Church matters.
According to news outlet ElDiario, Cardinal George Pell was also thrown out of C-9. Pell faces trial in Australia. He was in charge of the Vatican treasury and is accused of having abused children in Australia for decades.
Papa Francisco (@Pontifex_es) expulsa a cardenam Francisco Javier #Errázuriz del grupo C-9, que le asesora en la reforma de la curia romana. Lo deja fuera por encubrir a un sacerdote ya condenado por abusos sexuales https://t.co/sAidJY7pGj pic.twitter.com/5QUABUz1T2
— Breaking News Chile (@BreakingNewsChi) August 17, 2018
Early in May, Errázuriz declared that he hadn’t committed any crime. In a letter, he wrote “it is clear that there wasn’t any crime from my part. I have been slandered lately. I have been accused of being an accomplice, a criminal, and a negligent person.”
In Chile, the public prosecutor is investigating the case. Errázuriz and Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who is also accused of child abuse, already had to answer prosecutors’ questions about pedophilia in the church, and they will have to attend a hearing on August 21.
Australian Cardinal Pell won’t attend the next C-9 meeting on September 11 and 13. While Cardinal Errázuriz’s participation has not been decided yet, ElDiario reported that he likely won’t attend as well. The meeting is planned to formally present the new Apostolic Constitution, which is a set of rules that will govern the Catholic Church.
The church plans to make the Apostolic Constitution an official text in March 2019. Although the text has received criticism, Pope Francis is expected to accept it and continue a zero tolerance agenda against child abuse within the church.