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Pope defrocks priest involved in sex abuse scandal

Fernando Karadima leaves court in Santiago, Chile, in November 2015. Associated Press/Photo by Luis Hidalgo

Pope defrocks priest involved in sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis defrocked a Chilean priest at the center of the ongoing sex abuse scandal in Chile, the Vatican announced Friday. The statement cited the “exceptional amount of damage” the priest’s crimes had done, adding that Francis was stiffening the sentence for “the good of the church.”

No new evidence was brought forward against the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was originally sanctioned in 2011 to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for sexually abusing minors in his Santiago parish. This is a common sanction in sex abuse cases, but victims have criticized it as essentially paid retirement. Defrocking is the harshest penalty available short of excommunication.

“It is without doubt an exceptional measure, but Karadima’s grave crimes have caused exceptional damage in Chile,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said.

The decree was signed Thursday and takes effect immediately. Karadima was notified on Friday. This is the second time in a month that Francis has defrocked a Chilean priest. The sex scandal has rocked the papacy for months, and the severe punishments may signal an attempt to regain credibility on the issue.

Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is a former assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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