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SANTIAGO, Chile (ChurchMilitant.com) - A court in Chile has ordered the Church to pay three victims of a notorious pederast priest.
A Chilean appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the archdiocese of Santiago must give about $150,000 per person to three victims of Fr. Fernando Karadima.
Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton will be paid by the Santiago archdiocese in reparation for "moral damage," the court ruled. This overturned a previous decision by a lower court which had ruled that there was not sufficient proof that Church leaders covered up Fr. Karadima's misdeeds.
It is expected that many more alleged victims of clerical sex abuse will come forward after this ruling.
One of the victims, Murillo, told the press of his feelings on the ruling, "The truth is that there is a profound relief, along with the fatigue of all these years ... more than 20 years of asking for justice."
The office of the Santiago archdiocese responded to the ruling in a statement, saying it hopes "that the ruling will contribute to the process of reparation of the pain suffered by Fernando Karadima's victims."
The archdiocese said it "consents" to the court's decision.
When Pope Francis visited Latin America last year, he spoke in defense of Bp. Juan Barros, who has been accused of witnessing Fr. Karadima's crimes but doing nothing about them. During an in-flight press conference in January 2018, the Pope went so far as to accuse people of slander, saying, "The day they bring me proof against Bp. Barros, then I will speak. There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is slander. Is this clear?"
Karadima's victims have alleged that Barros was sometimes in the room while Karadima abused them, and that the two priests would exchange kisses and touch each other.
Barros was installed as bishop of Osorno in March 2015, much to the chagrin of local Catholics. About 1,000 wrote letters to the Pope opposing this, and hundreds of people showed up to protest his installation.
As for my own responsibility, I acknowledge, and I want you to faithfully convey it that way, that I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially because of the lack of truthful and balanced information. Right now, I ask forgiveness from all those I offended, and I hope to be able to do so personally, in the coming weeks, in the meetings I will have with representatives of the people who were interviewed.
Francis summoned the Chilean bishops to Rome for a special meeting in May. At the end of that meeting, all the bishops of Chile offered their resignations.
He was quick to accept the resignation of Bp. Barros, as well as two bishops who had reached retirement age. In the months that followed, Francis gave the orders for a few other Chilean prelates to step down as well.
The Vatican had sentenced Fr. Karadima to a life of prayer and penance back in 2011. Pope Francis took the extra step of having him defrocked in September.
Also in September, a Chilean prosecutor subpoenaed three Catholic bishops — Bp. Barros being one of them — in relation to a clerical sex abuse cover-up case.
Though Bp. Barros' resignation was already accepted by the Holy See, the other two prelates getting subpoenaed were still in charge of their dioceses — Cdl. Ricardo Ezzati and Bp. Santiago Silva.
But this changed just a few days ago. On March 23, Cdl. Ezzati resigned from the archdiocese of Santiago.
Bishop Silva is head of Chile's military ordinariate. Chilean law enforcement raided the military diocese's offices on Aug. 9 of 2018.