by Emilee Gaebler
Impunity Watch Reporter – South America
SANTIAGO, Chile – Archbishop Fernando Karadima was sentenced by the Vatican on March 18, 2011 for his sexual assault of minors. He was moved into retirement far away from his community, immediately upon the release of the decision. The Vatican stated he was to spend the remainder of his life in “prayer and penitence” for his actions.
The 80 year old priest was an influential religious figure in Santiago. His parishioners were from the upper -class of the city. Karadima was a leader and mentor to five bishops and dozens of priests. He was accused by four men who were former parishioners. They claimed they were sexually molested by Karadima as young boys, abuse that began over 30 years ago.
The Vatican decision has spurred the Chilean courts into action. Karadima has not yet been prosecuted criminally for his sexual abuse of children. A previous investigation was started back in 2010 but was dismissed shortly after for failure to prove misconduct. The current investigation started once the Vatican decision came out.
Karadima has consistently maintained his innocence, attributing the claims leveled against him to jealousy and the devil. Recently he has come forward to the judge, hearing his criminal prosecution, with claims that Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz paid more than $1million US to stop publication of a book about Karadima’s abuse of parishoners.
Other disturbing news surrounding the delayed investigation and prosecution has emerged. Allegations have been made by Karadima’s lawyer, Juan Pablo Bulnes, that his office was illegally searched by police forces with no legal warrant.
Bulnes wanted the transcripts of the Vatican trials, which he had refused to turn over and were confiscated in the serach, deemed inadmissible. However, the Chilean Supreme Court ruled on 7 September that the evidence will be permitted in future trials, despite the controversial manner in which they were obtained.
The actual court proceedings against the priest ended back on July 19 and two months later there has still not been an announced verdict.
For further information, please see;
The Santiago Times – New Scandal Rattles Chile’s Catholic Church – 11 September 2011
The Santiago Times – Controversial Evidence Permitted in High-Profile Sex Abuse Case – 8 September 2011
Vatican Insider – The Karadima Scandal: The Vatican Model of Justice – 1 July 2011
The New York Times – Chilean Priest Found Guilty of Abusing Minors – 18 February 2011