SANTIAGO, Chile, October 2, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Chilean cardinal and close advisor to the Pope is being accused of complicity in the cover-up of sex abuse.
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, one of nine appointed by Pope Francis to the highly influential Council of Cardinal Advisers, testified for five hours Wednesday in a suit filed by the victims of Fr. Fernando Karadima, a high-profile priest accused of sexually abusing several boys two decades ago. The accusations assert that Cdl. Errázuriz, Archbishop-Emeritus of Santiago, Chile, was fully aware of the abuse as early as 2003 and that he chose to ignore the victims' pleas for action.
Cardinal Errázuriz contends that, while admitting knowledge of the allegations against Karadima, his refusal to act stemmed from a genuine belief that the charges were untrue.
In 2011 the Vatican found Fr. Karadima guilty of sexually abusing several minors and sentenced him to "lifelong prohibition from the public exercise of any ministerial act, particularly confession and the spiritual guidance of any category of persons." This following the Chilean Catholic Church referring the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in June 2010.
Following a period of calm, the Chilean Church was rocked again in September 2015 when emails were leaked showing exchanges between Errázuriz and current head of the Santiago archdiocese Cdl. Ricardo Ezzati. The emails, dated from 2013 and 2014, contained a back-and-forth between the two men concerning one of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz; the cardinals had discussed key Vatican officials they would need to consult to prevent Cruz from receiving an invitation to speak on sex abuse at a meeting of the Pope's child protection commission.
Cruz has notably openly accused Errázuriz of covering up Karadima's abuse.
The office of Cdl. Ezzati holds that the emails were simply an exchange of opinion and that those opinions played no role in the Vatican's decisionmaking process over whom to choose to speak at the meeting.