Chilean abuse crisis first thing to tackle for new Santiago Church leader


March 30, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Bishop Celestino Aós, the temporary administrator of the Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile, has an uphill battle ahead of him.

On Thursday, his predecessor Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, went before a local prosecutor to testify as a defendant as part of an investigation into the country’s sprawling sex abuse and cover-up scandal.

A civil court just ordered the archdiocese to pay $450,000 to the survivors of the abuse of one priest, after allegedly covering up the crime; Aós has decided not to appeal.

In addition, he doesn’t have a completely clean track record himself when it comes to handling cases of clerical sexual abuse: When he was the promoter of justice in the diocese of Valparaiso, he allegedly mishandled abuse allegations presented by ex-seminarians against five priests in 2012. He single-handedly investigated the allegations against all of them in three months, and deemed the accusations not credible.

Today, one of the priests is out of the priesthood, and some of the others are being re-investigated.

Mauricio Pulgar, a victim of abuse in the seminary of Valparaiso, told Crux last Saturday that when he had to deal with Aós in 2012, the bishop’s treatment was “inhumane,” and claimed that the prelate helped Bishop Gonzalo Duarte cover up the misconduct.

Yet there are some who are open to giving Aós an opportunity to prove himself as a bishop.

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