Two Chilean bishops defrocked over child abuse

FILE Pope Francis

FILE Pope Francis

Pope Francis, who received Saturday at the Vatican with chilean president Sebastian Piñera, has returned to the lay state two bishops of chile for sexual assaults on minors, at the time when the catholic Church in this south american country is mired in a scandal without precedent.

The Vatican named the two men as Francisco José Cox Huneeus, archbishop emeritus of the city of La Serena, and Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández, archbishop emeritus of Iquique.

The actions of the Pope associated with the scandal in the Catholic Church of Chile in connection with charges against nearly 80 local priests in the sexual harassment of minors.

The decision, taken by the Pope last Thursday, 11 October 2018, may not be appealed.

The pope's decision is the harshest punishment available in church canon law.

Advocates for abuse survivors have long complained about the Vatican's secrecy in handling such abuse cases, and the lack of transparency when arrived at judgments.

Francis had a private meeting at the Vatican Saturday with Chile's President Sebastián Piñera, the same day the defrocking of the bishops was announced.

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The Vatican said both meetings discussed "the painful scourge of abuse of minors, reiterating the effort of all in collaboration to combat and prevent the perpetration of such crimes and their concealment".

This story is available for republication.

In May, the Argentine pontiff accepted the resignation of five Chilean bishops amid accusations of abuse and related coverups.

He is believed to be living somewhere in Chile.

"We shared the hope that the Church may experience a renaissance and recuperate the affection, the closeness of the people of God, and can continue playing the important role that the Church plays in our country", Pinera told reporters.

Chilean civil justice has investigated 119 allegations of sexual abuse or cover-ups involving 167 church workers including Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, the archbishop of Santiago.

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