Tue | Sep 17, 2019

Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops accused of sex abuse

Published:Sunday | October 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Pope Francis (centre) poses with Chile's President Sebastian Pinera (left) and his wife Cecilia Morel during a private audience at the Vatican, yesterday.


Pope Francis yesterday defrocked two more Chilean bishops accused of sexually abusing minors, and to show greater transparency about how he's responding to the church's global sex abuse crisis, he publicly explained why they were removed.

The Vatican's unusually detailed statement announcing the laicisation of retired Archbishop Francisco Jose Cox Huneeus and retired Bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez signalled a new degree of transparency following past missteps by Francis that showed that he had grossly underestimated the gravity of the abuse scandal.

The statement said that the two were defrocked for abusing minors with evidence so overwhelming that a canonical trial was unnecessary. The Vatican said that the decision cannot be appealed.


High-profile Position


Cox, 87, and suffering from dementia, is a member of the Schoenstatt religious order and had served as a bishop in Chillan, Chile, before becoming the number-two official at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, a high-profile position during St John Paul II's papacy.

He returned to Chile and became bishop in La Serena until he left in 1997 under unclear circumstances, but took on administrative jobs in Rome and at the Latin American bishops' conference in Colombia.

In 2002, the Vatican office for bishops asked the Schoenstatt Fathers to take him in one of its houses, apparently because of abuse allegations.

He has been living in Germany since then but last year a new, formal accusation was received by the Vatican about an alleged case of abuse that happened in Germany in 2004.

The Schoenstatt Fathers said yesterday that the Vatican had asked that Cox remain in their custody.

The order said it would cooperate with the justice system, given that victims in Chile have made criminal complaints against him.