Police in Chile Search Catholic Church Offices in Abuse Investigation


SANTIAGO, Chile — The police and prosecutors raided Roman Catholic Church offices in two Chilean cities on Wednesday looking for files, investigative reports and documents related to a sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the clergy’s reputation in Chile.

The surprise raids targeted the headquarters of Santiago’s Ecclesiastical Court and the bishop’s office in Rancagua in the O’Higgins region, where 14 priests are accused of having had sexual relations with minors.

Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, the archbishop of Santiago, said church officials “gave the prosecutor all the requested documentation.” He added that they were “available to cooperate with the civilian justice system in all that is required.”

In May, all of Chile’s active bishops offered to quit for having failed to protect children from priests who raped, groped and molested them.

Wednesday’s raids came as two leading Vatican investigators — Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu — are in Chile to investigate the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy.

On Monday, Pope Francis began purging members of Chile’s church hierarchy over the abuse cases, accepting the resignations of the bishop at the center of the scandal and two others.

Archbishop Scicluna and Monsignor Bertomeu have already put together a 2,300-page report that said the Chilean church hierarchy had systematically covered up or minimized abuse cases, destroyed evidence, pressured church investigators to discredit accusers and shown “grave negligence” in protecting children.

Source : Nytimes