Ahead of pope’s Chile visit, priests accused of child sex abuse

Santiago, Chile | AFP | Almost 80 Roman Catholic clergy have been accused of sexually abusing children in Chile since 2000, a US-based monitoring group said Wednesday ahead of a visit to the country next week by Pope Francis.

Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, has spoken out against such abuse, which has rocked the church for years, but has faced calls to improve accountability and transparency.

BishopAccountability.org compiled its database of clergy publicly accused of sex abuse against minors using court and media records.

The group said the list represented a “fraction of the total number of accused clerics who would be known if Chile’s church leaders were required to report to law enforcement, if its legal system allowed victims more time to bring criminal and civil charges, or if dioceses and religious orders were investigated by prosecutors or state commissions.”

The list includes Chilean priest Fernando Karadima, accused of abusing children in 2010 and convicted by the Vatican, but not Chile.

Foreign-born clergy members on the list included Irishman Jeremiah Healy, American Jesuit H. Cornell Bradley, and Filipino Reverend Richard Joey Aguinaldo.

The group said it hoped the timing would push the pontiff to take action needed to stem the tide of abuse.

Protesters are expected along the pope’s parade route during his visit next week to Chile, a largely Catholic and socially conservative country.

The pontiff will then travel on to Peru.

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