CATHOLIC CHURCH

Pope expels two Chilean bishops over reunion with president Piñera

VATICAN – Pope Francis has expelled two more Chilean bishops from the Catholic Church. Francisco José Cox, former archbishop of La Serena, and Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández, the former bishop of Iquique, have both been defrocked on charges of sexual abuse. The expulsions coincided with the visit of president Piñera, who met with the Pope in the Vatican.

A new chapter in the long-lasting sexual abuse scandal that has been choking the Chilean Catholic Church. Today, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has expelled Francisco José Cox, former archbishop of La Serena, and Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández, the former bishop of Iquique, from the Catholic Church. Both are being accused of sexual abuse of minors.

The case of Francisco José Cox has been making headlines for some years in Chile, as claims of his sexual abuse of minors already were investigated before he became bishop of Chillán in 1974. For years, victims had waited for the day Cox would receive a proper punishment. As for now, Cox is residing in Germany and refuses to come to Chile. He also has denied all claims about his sexual abuse.

In the last months the Pope had already expelled various Chilean priests and bishops, such as Fernando Karadima and Christián Precht. Other bishops, such as Carlos Pellegrín Barrera, bishop of Chillán, and Chrstián Contreras Molina of San Felipe resigned themselves, as their names appeared in the widespread investigation on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church by National Prosecutor Emiliano Ariás.

Meeting with president Piñera

The announcement of the Vatican was released shortly after Pope Francis met with president Piñera in the Vatican. The president had a private meeting with the Pope, that according to official government reports lasted 32 minutes. Apart from the sexual abuse scandal in the Chilean church, they discussed topics such as the immigration influx in Chile and the recent The Hague trial with Bolivia. About the meeting, president Piñera said: “We talked about the difficult situation the Church in Chile is in, and above all, we share the hope that the church can live a true rebirth, and recover the affection, to come close as a people with God”.

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