Cardinal Errazuriz will not participate in Chilean bishops' meeting in Rome

By Hannah Brockhaus

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Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa. Credit: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile CC 2.0.

Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago, has said that he will not take part in a meeting between Chile’s bishops and the pope next week to discuss a report on allegations of abuse cover-up in the Latin American country.

In Rome April 23-25 for the latest reunion of the pope’s council of cardinal advisers, of which he is a member, Errazuriz said that he will not return for the May 14-17 meetings “for personal reasons.”

Errazuriz led the archdiocese of Santiago from 1998-2010, overlapping with the period during which Chilean priest Fernando Karadima was found to have abused several minors. Karadima was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2011 and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.

The cardinal has been accused by at least one of Karadima’s victims, who met privately with Pope Francis April 28-29, of failing to act on reports of abuse. Victim James Hamilton said in a press conference May 2 that Errazuriz “was covering up for more than five years the criminal Karadima and all of his acts.”

Errazuriz confirmed to the Chilean news agency La Tercera that he will not be in attendance at the Rome meeting, but said that two weeks ago he gave his own 14-page report to Pope Francis “about the trial of Father Karadima and the ramifications of the case.”

Other factors contributing to the cardinal’s decision, La Tercera reports, are the cost of the trip and that the rooms of the Vatican’s guest house, the Casa Santa Marta, were already booked that week. Errazuriz also noted that while Pope Francis summoned Chile’s 32 active bishops, the archbishops emeritus of the country were merely invited to participate.

Juan Carlos Cruz, among the most outspoken of Karadima’s victims, responded to the news that Errazuriz would not attend the meeting by saying on Twitter, “We are used to his tricks. He won’t change. But at least, he has been exposed and the world knows. He is a disgrace.”

Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, who has been at the center of the Chilean investigation, will be present at the meetings next week.

Barros was appointed to the Diocese of Osorno by Pope Francis in 2015 and has been accused by Juan Carlos Cruz of both covering up Karadima’s abuses and at times participating.

The Chilean bishops were summoned to the Vatican by Pope Francis following a recent investigation on abuse cover-up in Chile, carried out by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta during a trip to Chile and the United States in February.

In his letter calling the bishops to Rome, the pope admitted to making “serious mistakes” in handling the nation’s sex abuse crisis, asking for forgiveness and for their “collaboration and assistance in discerning the short, mid and long-term measures” to be carried out.

The schedule for the meeting is not known, but the pope has said he wishes to discuss Scicluna’s 2,300-page report and his conclusions.

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