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article imageChile orders Church to pay damages to ex-priest's victims

By AFP     Mar 27, 2019 in World

A court in Chile on Wednesday ordered the Roman Catholic Church to pay damages of around $440,000 to the victims of influential former priest Fernando Karadima.

The court in Santiago ordered the Church to pay 100 million pesos -- around $146,000 -- to each of three of his victims.

Juan Carlos Cruz, Andres Murillo and James Hamilton had sued the Church for "moral damage" for covering up years of sexual abuse perpetrated by Karadima, a senior Chilean cleric.

Pope Francis eventually defrocked the priest last year at the height of public outrage in the South American country over clerical sexual abuse and its concealment.

A Vatican investigator dispatched by Francis to Chile concluded there was "a culture of abuse" within the Chilean church in a 2,300-page report.

The pope later invited Cruz, Murillo and Hamilton to meet him at the Vatican to hear their testimonies and ask for their pardon.

In May last year, Francis summoned all 34 Chilean bishops to Rome over the crisis and all offered to resign, though Francis has so far only accepted a handful.

Karadima's case has proved particularly damaging for Francis, who had publicly defended a bishop accused of covering up Karadima's crimes when he visited Chile last year.

Francis eventually accepted he was wrong to back 61-year-old Juan Barros, and subsequently accepted his resignation along with six other Chilean bishops.

Almost 170 members of the Church in Chile are under investigation for either perpetrating sexual abuse or of covering it up, including Ricardo Ezzati, the former Archbishop of Santiago replaced last week by Francis.

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