Two Chilean bishops defrocked over child abuse
Considered harshest penalty for priests, decision is a consequence of abuse against minors
Pope Francis has defrocked two Chilean bishops for the alleged sexual abuse of minors, the Vatican said in a statement after a meeting between the pontiff and the president of Chile.
The decision to expel former archbishop Francisco Jose Cox Huneeus and former bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez — the latest heads to roll in a country hit hard by the cleric abuse scandal — could not be appealed, it said. Both were stripped of their priesthood "as a consequence of overt acts of abuse against minors". The announcement came a day after the pope accepted the resignation of Washington DC Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who has been blamed for not doing enough to deal with paedophile priests.
The defrocking was "an extremely unusual, if not unprecedented" move, said Ines San Martin, a Vatican expert writing in the Crux specialist Catholic website. Defrocking is considered the harshest penalty for priests within the Church and means the offender is forbidden from exercising any clerical duties at all. A total of 167 bishops, priests and lay members of the church are now under scanner for sexual crimes committed in Chile since 1960.
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