Chile child abuse scandal: Pope Francis defrocks Fernando Karadima

SANTIAGO/VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has stripped the priest at the centre of Chile’s clerical sex abuse scandal from his services.

In a statement, the Vatican said the pontiff had defrocked Fernando Karadima for “the good of the Church.”

The 88-year-old former priest had previously been sanctioned to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for having sexually abused minors.

The Vatican statement said that the pontiff signed a decree on the defrocking, technically known as being “reduced to the lay state,” on Thursday, and that Karadima, who is believed to be living in a home for the elderly in the Chilean capital Santiago, was notified on Friday.

In June, the Pope accepted the resignations of three Chilean bishops in the wake of the scandal.

Karadima was found guilty of abusing teenage boys over many years in a Vatican investigation in 2011. He was not removed from the Vatican at that time and denies wrongdoing.

He was not subject to a criminal prosecution in Chile because of the country’s statue of limitations.

Many of the local faithful are still furious over a 2015 decision by Pope Francis to appoint Osorno Bishop Juan Barros, who had been one of Karadima’s proteges.

Francis caused an outcry during his visit to Chile in January when he defended Barros, who is accused of protecting Karadima despite having witnessed the abuse, saying there was no proof.

The pope subsequently admitted to making “serious mistakes” over child sex abuse by members of the clergy in Chile and accepted Barros’s resignation in June.