Symbolic image of abuse in the Catholic Church © Artur Szczybylo (shutterstock)
The Catholic Church in Chile does not come to rest. Now there is an accusation of abuse against the uncle of President Pinera. Vatican has launched investigation into world's oldest bishop.
The matter is particularly sensitive for Chile's President Sebastian Pinera: The Vatican has launched preliminary investigations against the former president of the Chilean Bishops' Conference, Alter Archbishop Bernardino Pinera Carvallo, according to the Papal Nunciature in Santiago.
He is accused of sexual abuse of a minor. The 103-year-old archbishop emeritus of La Serena is the oldest living Catholic bishop in the world – and also an uncle to the president.
Incident dates back some 50 years
The incident in question occurred some 50 years ago, when Bernardino Pinera was archbishop of La Serena. Church investigators are in contact with the alleged victim, but stress the presumption of innocence for the bishop until proven otherwise.
As a nephew, he finds it difficult to believe the accusation because he has known his uncle for 70 years, the Chilean president said in an initial reaction, according to the portal Cooperativa. And he finds it difficult to believe the accusation because it stems from an incident more than 50 years ago and is directed against a man who is now 103 years old. Nevertheless, Pinera clarified:
"The position of the government is clear and unequivocal."Every accusation must be investigated with all rigor to clarify its truthfulness, he said. In this case, too, there is no exception.
Accused denies allegations
Also the accused already spoke out. He had received knowledge of the preliminary investigation against him, Bernardino Pinera let spread on Tuesday. At the same time, in a statement, he rejected the accusations, the origin of which he did not know. He stands fully ready to help clarify the ie. During his entire spiritual life, which now lasted almost 75 years, he said he had nothing to reproach himself for.
Bernardino Pinera was ordained a priest in 1947. He served as auxiliary bishop in Talca and bishop of Temuco before becoming archbishop of La Serena. According to Chilean media reports, Pinera took part in four sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). From 1983 to 1988, Pinera was president of the Chilean Bishops' Conference and also fulfilled functions within the Latin American Bishops' Council CELAM.
Church in Chile rocked by abuse scandal
The Catholic Church in Chile has been rocked by serious abuse scandals for years. Fernando Karadima (89), who has since been dismissed from the clergy, plays a key role. In 2011, he was convicted of sexual misconduct. Several bishops emerged from his circle, quite a few of whom have since resigned.
According to media reports, Chile's judiciary is currently investigating more than 200 church employees or church representatives on suspicion of abuse. The alleged victims are about 240 people, about half of whom were minors at the time of the crime.