This Tuesday, a report by the foundation "Para la Confianza" on child abuse in Chile will be presented in Santiago. Meanwhile, the media speculate about a new shepherd for the capital of the South American country.
The Chilean public is eagerly awaiting the report of the "Para la Confianza" Foundation on child abuse in the capital region of Santiago. The study is likely to become another piece of the mosaic in the debate over the abuse scandal that Chile's Catholic Church is trying to address.
The foundation filed a lawsuit in mid-August against two cardinals, Francisco Javier Errazuriz and Ricardo Ezzati, among others. They allegedly tried to cover up abuse cases within the Chilean church. Errazuriz and Ezzati have meanwhile been questioned by the public prosecutor's office. So far, they deny all allegations.
Speculation about Ezzati's replacement as archbishop of Santiago
Nevertheless, there is speculation that Ezzati will soon be replaced as archbishop of Santiago. The Italian-born bishop turned 76 just under a year ago and has thus passed the age limit of 75 anyway, at which bishops offer their resignation to the pope. But the personnel matter gains additional explosiveness almost with each new publication.
Almost all Chilean newspapers speculated over the weekend that Ezzati could be replaced by a foreign bishop before Christmas. Alejandro Alvarez, lawyer and spokesman for the journalists' association "Catholic Voices" in Chile, told the daily newspaper "La Tercera": The successor must know Santiago and the situation of the Chilean church well, because a complex reality and great challenge await him.
"It could be someone who has spent many years in Chile," says Alvarez. Other voices viewed a possible new appointment from abroad as a sign of Pope Francis' distrust of the Chilean Bishops' Conference. Admittedly: An official confirmation for the Personalie does not give it yet at all.
The Chilean church is in serious trouble after months of investigations by the public prosecutor's office and ever new revelations.
Accusations against former Chilean archbishop
Recently, a former Chilean archbishop living in Germany also hit the headlines. Francisco Cox Huneeus, 84, was dismissed from the clergy by Francis in October on charges of sexual abuse. He could return to his Chilean homeland in January to face questioning by the judiciary there, a spokesman for the Schoenstatt Fathers recently explained.
Cox, however, suffers from prostate cancer, senile dementia and diabetes and therefore must be accompanied on the trip. Cox, archbishop in La Serena, Chile, from 1990 to 1997, has long been accused of sexual abuse of minors.
He resigned from his post at the age of 63, with no reason given by church leaders. Since 2002, Cox has lived at the ancestral home of his religious community of Schoenstatt Fathers in Vallendar near Koblenz. The then Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Errazuriz, justified the departure with an "inappropriate behavior" of the clergyman.
More than 100 open cases of abuse
However, the crisis originated in a different case. At the end of September, the Pope transferred the Chilean priest Fernando Karadima (88) to the lay state. The charismatic cleric is seen as the starting point of the current upheavals.
In 2011 he was convicted of sexual offenses. From his circle emerged several bishops accused of complicity by Karadima's victims. Several of these bishops have since resigned from their posts. According to prosecutors, there are currently more than 100 open cases of abuse within the ranks of Chile's Catholic Church. Dozens of clergymen are said to be involved.