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Two Chilean bishops expelled from priesthood

VATICAN (CNS): Pope Francis removed two Chilean bishops accused of sexual abuse from the priesthood.
 
In a statement released on October 12, the Vatican said 84-year-old Francisco José Cox, the former archbishop of La Serena, and 53-year-old Marco Antonio Ordenes, the former bishop of Iquique, were dismissed from the clerical state. 
 
“The decision adopted by the pope on Thursday, 11 October 2018, is not subject to appeal,” the Vatican said.
 
The Vatican cited norms issued by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI regarding serious crimes committed by members of the clergy. The norms state that the most serious cases are decided by the pope “when it is manifestly evident that the delict was committed and after having given the guilty party the possibility of defending himself.”
 
Just prior to the announcement, Pope Francis met with the president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, and discussed the sexual abuse scandal affecting the Catholic Church in the country.
 
After meeting, Pinera said he and the pope “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.”
 
The expulsion of the former bishops comes two weeks after Pope Francis also expelled Fernando Karadima, from the priesthood. The former Chilean priest gained notoriety for sexually abusing young men in his parish.
 
Reacting to the announcement, survivor Juan Carlos Cruz, who was abused by Karadima, hailed the pope’s decision, tweeting that now “there are two pedophile bishops less” in the Church.
 
“It is a good day for the survivors of these monsters. Now it is time for the Chilean courts to do something!” Cruz tweeted.
 
Father Fernando Baeza, the  provincial superior of the Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers in Santiago, Chile, had said on October 6 that the Vatican was investigating Cox after an accusation of abuse that occurred in Germany in 2004 was reported in 2017.
 
On the eve of the publication of an exposé on Cox’s behavior in 2002, Francisco Javier Cardinal Errazuriz of Santiago, a longtime friend, said that “there were always rumours due to his distinct form of affection that was common among us. It was excessively expressive and that led to rumours by many people looking for a meaning behind it.”
 
Cardinal Errazuriz released a statement several days later asking forgiveness for those hurt by the retired archbishop’s actions.
 
In 2012, after being diagnosed with cancer, Cox was transferred to Vallendar, Germany where the Schonstatt headquarters is located. He still resides there and is reportedly suffering from dementia.
 
Former Bishop Ordenes was appointed to lead the Diocese of Iquique in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI, making him the youngest bishop in Chile at the time.
 
Nearly six years later, he became the subject of an investigation by the apostolic nunciature in Chile after an accusation of sexual abuse was made against him in April 2012.
 
In an interview in 2012 with the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, then-Bishop Ordenes acknowledged “having had an imprudent act … of which I repent and I asked for forgiveness in that moment.”
 
Three days later, his resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict.
 
The Vatican said that both former bishops were notified of Pope Francis’ decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith through “their respective superiors in their respective residences.

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