SANTIAGO, Chile — Victims of sexual abuse by Chile’s most infamous pedophile priest filed criminal complaint on Thursday against a former bishop who is an adviser to Pope Francis.
The complaint obtained by The Associated Press was filed against Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, the retired archbishop of the Chilean capital.
Victims of Father Fernando Karadima accuse Errazuriz of perjury. They also say he’s part of Chile’s wretched record on clerical abuse and cover-up. The complaint is led by the attorney representing victims Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo.
The scandal battering the Chilean Church has prompted 31 bishops to offer their resignation to the pope. Francis has accepted the resignations of eight bishops so far.
Francis also recently defrocked Karadima.
Victims have accused Errazuriz of covering up their accusations in order to protect Karadima. The victims repeated their accusations earlier this year at the end of a four-day visit with Francis, who has done an about-face on the Chilean scandal after initially discrediting the victims.
Errazuriz has denied covering up for Karadima. He has denounced the “defamation” he has been subject to and defended his handling of the case at the center of Chile’s sex abuse scandal that has discredited the Chilean Church and tarnished Francis’s own reputation.
In a letter by Errazuriz obtained by the AP earlier this year, the emeritus archbishop insisted that he was only following Church law in waiting so long to launch an investigation into Karadima. Only in 2009, some five years after he received the first complaint, did he start the process.
In addition to the delay in starting an investigation, the survivors point to a letter Errazuriz wrote in 2006, well after receiving the first allegations, in which the archbishop reassured Karadima he wasn’t being “punished” by agreeing to leave his parish.
Karadima was later convicted and sentenced by the Vatican to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his sex crimes.