Chile: Jesuits publish inquiry results, confirm abuses by famed priest

Catholic News Service

July 31, 2019

By Junno Arocho Esteves

While deceased Jesuit Fr. Renato Poblete Barth was known publicly as a champion of the poor in Chile, an internal investigation funded by the Jesuits revealed that the famed clergyman abused more than a dozen women over a span of nearly 50 years.

The results of the six-month independent investigation, which were announced July 30 by Jesuit Fr. Cristian del Campo, provincial superior of Chile, concluded that “the abuses of power, of conscience, sexual and other crimes committed by Renato Poblete Barth were sustained by a sort of double life, protected by his public image of a good person.”

“The abuse, transversely, was carried out from a position of power that gave him that image, his enormous network of contacts, and the economic power that he had by autonomously handling important sums of money during many years,” the report said.

Born in 1924 in Antofagasta, on the northern Chilean coast, Poblete lived in Bolivia for most of his childhood until age 16. His family moved to Santiago in 1940, and toward the end of high school he met St. Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, founder of Hogar de Cristo – one of the country’s largest charities – and the Jesuit who inspired him to join the Society of Jesus.

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