Pope defrocks Chilean priest at center of abuse scandal

Associated Press via Boston Globe

September 28, 2018

By Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis has defrocked a Chilean priest who was a central character in the global sex abuse scandal rocking his papacy, invoking his ‘‘supreme’’ authority to stiffen an earlier sentence because of the ‘‘exceptional amount of damage’’ the priest’s crimes had caused.

In a statement Friday, the Vatican said Francis had laicized 88-year-old Fernando Karadima, who was originally sanctioned in 2011 to live a lifetime of ‘‘penance and prayer’’ for having sexually abused minors in the upscale Santiago parish he ran.

The Vatican said Francis was doing so for ‘‘the good of the church.’’

‘‘It is without doubt an exceptional measure, but Karadima’s grave crimes have caused exceptional damage in Chile,’’ Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said.

The ‘‘penance and prayer’’ sanction has been the Vatican’s punishment of choice for elderly priests convicted of raping and molesting children. It has long been criticized by victims as too soft and essentially an all-expenses-paid retirement, and Karadima’s whistle-blowers had pressed for it to be toughened.

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