Pope Defrocks Chilean Priest

On September 27, Pope Francis signed a decree to remove 88-year-old Chilean priest Fernando Karadima from the priesthood, effective immediately. Karadima was forced to retire from his ministerial duties and was consigned to a life of prayer and penance in 2011 after a Vatican tribunal found him guilty of sexually abusing young men in his parish. That same year, a Chilean judge held that the allegations against Karadima were “truthful and reliable,” but ultimately dismissed the charges as the statute of limitations had run its course. This move follows the Pope’s acceptance of the resignations of three Chilean bishops earlier this year, including that of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno—a protégé of Karadima. Greg Burke, a Vatican spokesman, described Francis’ decree as “an exceptional measure,” justified by Canon 331 of the Code of Canon Law, which authorizes the Pope to exercise “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church.” Mr. Karadima had been living in a nursing home in a wealthy area of Santiago paid for by the archbishop’s office; as a result of this decree, the church will no longer provide him with financial support.

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