SANTIAGO – The Ninth Chamber of the Court of Appeals of Santiago has ordered the Chilean Church to compensate the victims of Fernando Karadima, an influential pastor who for decades sexually abused children and adolescents in the South American country.
The Archdiocese of Santiago will have to pay 450 million pesos (about 670 thousand U.S .dollars) to James Hamilton, Juan Carlos Cruz and José Andrés Murillo, according to the unanimous decision of the IX Court of Appeals Court.
The three have accused Cardinals Francisco Javier Errázuriz and Ricardo Ezzati, the first archbishop emeritus of Santiago and the second current incumbent of the Archdiocese, to cover up the abuses of Fernando Karadima, who a few weeks ago was stripped from the priesthood by the pope.
According to the newspaper La Tercera, this figure is the highest financial compensation to which the Catholic Church has been condemned so far. However, the religious institution has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In the first instance, Judge Juan Muñoz had rejected the lawsuit filed by the three abused by Fernando Karadima, who have led the accusations against abuses committed by representatives of the Church and that were received a few months ago by Pope Francis in the Vatican.
Karadima was an influential parish priest in a well-to-do neighborhood of Santiago, Chile, who trained about fifty priests, of whom five became bishops.
According to La Tercera, the change of direction of the Justice was due to the discovery of a letter that Cardinal Errázuriz sent to the nuncio Giuseppe Pinto in 2009, in which he indicated that after receiving the accusations against Fernando Karadima he had resolved not to question the parish priest so as not to bother him.
The missive found during the raids on the Archdiocese of Santiago held last June by the regional prosecutor of O’Higgins, Emiliano Arias.
According to a cadastre published by the Chilean National Prosecutor’s Office at the end of August, there are currently 119 investigations in progress against 167 persons related to the Church and 178 victims quantified, 79 of whom were minors when the events occurred.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of five Chilean bishops, after last May the 34 bishops of the country presented their resignation en bloc to the pontiff in the Vatican after acknowledging that they had committed “serious errors and omissions”.