SANTIAGO – A Chilean priest, convicted of pedophilia, has been stripped of his priestly duties by Pope Francis amid a growing global abuse scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church.
The Archdiocese of Santiago said the Pope had decided to defrock Reverend Cristian Precht, El Mercurio reported on Saturday.
The information, confirmed on the website of the Archbishopric of Santiago, indicates that it was the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria, who notified the Chilean Church of the decision of Pope Francis’ decision.
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The statement says the “resignation of the clerical state ‘ex officio et pro bono Ecclesiae’ and the dispensation from all the obligations attached to the sacred ordination of the Rev. Cristián Precht Bañados were decreed.
“The same decree establishes that the bishop communicate the new canonical situation of the affected to the people of God as soon as possible.”
The Church of Santiago reported that the decision adopted by Pope Francis is unappealable. Antecedents for possible abuses had been sent to Rome.
Precht was a former head of the Church’s Vicariate of Solidarity human rights group that in the 1980s had challenged ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet to end the practice of torture in Chile.
The Chilean religious leader has since been accused of sexual abuse as part of an investigation into allegations against members of the Marist Brothers religious community.
In 2012, Precht was sentenced to a five-year prohibition of publicly exercising the priestly ministry after “abusive behavior with minors and adults” was verified.
Precht has previously denied the charges.
Investigations into alleged sexual abusers within the Chilean episcopacy have escalated since police raids in Temuco and Villarrica led to the confiscation of dozens of documents believed to be connected to additional abuse cases in July.
The Catholic Church worldwide is reeling from crises involving the sexual abuse of minors, deeply damaging confidence in the Holy See.
The scandals have been the most serious in Chile, the United States, Australia, and Ireland.
Cases of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests have led to many investigations, trials, and convictions. There have been numerous allegations of attempts by Church authorities to cover up abuse.
Pope Francis has formerly expressed “shame and sorrow” over the matter.
Addressing an event in Ireland, attended by some victims of such sexual abuses, the pontiff admitted that the Church had failed to address the “crimes.”
Pope Francis has said he has a zero tolerance policy toward the sexual abuse of minors in the Church, but he has also been accused of ignoring warnings on the matter.