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article imageTop Vatican abuse investigator has surgery in Chile

By AFP     Feb 21, 2018 in World

The Vatican's top abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, had emergency surgery Wednesday shortly after his arrival in Chile to investigate a controversial bishop, the Catholic Church said.

Scicluna, sent to Chile by Pope Francis to hear evidence against a bishop accused of covering up the abuses of a pedophile priest, was recovering "satisfactorily" after undergoing emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder, Church spokesman Jaime Coiro said.

Scicluna was taken to hospital on Tuesday after suffering a "malaise that has emerged in recent weeks," Coiro said.

"Monsignor Scicluna is currently in good condition, recovering satisfactorily from laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive procedure with a very good prognosis," read a statement from the Catholic University's San Carlos de Apoquindo clinic.

Scicluna traveled to Chile as part of his investigation into Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused of covering up and even witnessing the abuses of pedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.

Controversy over the 61-year-old Barros marred Francis' trip to Chile last month, when he hugged and defended the bishop.

Maltese archbishop Scicluna had already interviewed one of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, in New York on his way to Chile.

He began hearing the testimonies of abuse victims in Chile on Tuesday, before he fell ill.

Victims' testimonies would continue "as planned" to be heard by a legal assistant to Scicluna, Jordi Bertomeu, until Friday, the spokesman said.

The probe conclusions will be submitted to the pope, who will then decide whether to open a canonical investigation against Barros.

Karadima was accused of abusing children in 2010, and convicted by the Vatican to a life of penitence.

Civil charges against him in the Chilean courts were dismissed because of a lack of evidence.

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