National Catholic Reporter
Jason Berry | Apr. 29, 2014
Home today is an apartment in Society Hill, Philadelphia, but when Juan Carlos Cruz was growing up in Chile in the 1980s, his family lived close to El Bosque, “the forest” — a tree-draped park avenue and a prime neighborhood in Santiago, the capital city. It was also home to a charismatic pastor, Fr. Fernando Karadima, surrounded by well-dressed boys from top schools, and later unmasked as a sexual predator.
Many El Bosque families walked to Mass at Sagrado Corazón (“Sacred Heart”). At the red brick church with a seven-story bell tower, politicians, corporate executives and military officers revered Karadima.
“We were a close family, with grandparents nearby and many friends in the area,” Cruz, now the head of a communications division for a Fortune Global 500 company, told NCR in recent interviews.
Everyone he knew growing up was conservative. His father was a banker who moved the family to Madrid after Salvador Allende, a Socialist, was elected president of Chile in 1970. Cruz attended middle school in Spain.
After Allende’s death in the 1973 coup that launched Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, the family moved back to Chile. In El Bosque, which was untouched by torture or disappearances, Pinochet was popular — and a figure of praise in Karadima’s sermons.
The priest had a magnetism that entranced Cruz. He was 15 when his father died, and he sought solace in Karadima. Six years later, Cruz entered a diocesan seminary.
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