Judge Juan Manuel Munoz from the Appeals Court in Santiago, Chile has decided to move forward with a pre-lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Santiago and predator priest Fernando Karadima. (www.lasegunada.com/Noticias/Nacional/2013/07/862983/karadima-es-cilado-a-deciarar-en-fase-previa-a-la-demandu-que-presentaran-contra-arzobispado)
In January 2011, Karadima was found guilty of sexual abuse after at least four men came forward with accusations that they had been abused as minors. The statute of limitations prevent Karadima from serving a jail sentence but he was forced from ministry to retire to “a life of prayer and penitence.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/world/americas/19chile.html?_r=0
The purpose of the pre-lawsuit is to find out the level of involvement and the cover up provided by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati and most of the members of the Chilean Catholic hierarchy who reportedly knew about the abuse as early as 1958 yet said and did nothing about it over the past four decades. Victims believe the investigation will also focus on the four bishops who came from Karadima's inner circle and, according to court documents and witness accounts, knew of and witnessed Karadima's abuse yet remained silent. These bishops are Juan Barros, Andrés Arteaga, Tomislav Koljatic and Horacio Valenzuela.
Church officials who were reckless with the safety of children should be held accountable. They should not be allowed to keep their positions of authority if they have misused it. Protecting the Chilean children should be the highest priority of the court and the church. If the investigation shows disregard for the safety of children we hope those who covered up and enabled the crimes will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Victims believe that the church officials who could have intervened to prevent additional abuse and sexual violence refused to do so. In addition, it appears that the same church officials also refused to help victims in need. Lastly, we are disappointed that Pope Francis selected Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz to be a part of the committee chosen to develop ways of reforming the Catholic Church. Considering his track record of putting the interest of predators and reputations ahead of the best interests of children we question the wisdom of this decision.
Now, more than ever, it is important that anyone with information speaks up. We urge anyone who experienced, saw or suspects wrongdoing by Karadima to report it to police immediately. If anyone knows about the involvement of Cardinal Errazuriz and Archbishop Ezzati or any other bishop please speak up so they will be held accountable and children will be safer.
We join several Chilean groups and international groups asking that Cardinal Errazuriz resign his position on the committee.