Pope Francis removes Chilean priest at center of sex abuse scandal

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Source: The Guardian

Pope Francis has defrocked the Chilean priest at the center of the global sex abuse scandal rocking his papacy, invoking his “supreme” authority to stiffen a sentence originally handed down by a Vatican court in 2011.

In a statement on Friday, the Vatican said Francis had defrocked the Rev Fernando Karadima, 88, who was originally sanctioned to live a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for having sexually abused minors in the upscale Santiago parish he ran.

The “penance and prayer” sanction has been the Vatican’s punishment of choice for elderly priests convicted of raping and molesting children. It has long been criticized by victims as too soft and essentially an all-expenses-paid retirement.

The Vatican did not say what new evidence, if any, prompted Francis to re-evaluate Karadima’s sanction and impose what clergy consider to be the equivalent of a death sentence. It said Francis made the “exceptional decision” for the good of the church, and cited the church canon that lays out the pope’s “supreme, full, immediate and universal power” to serve the church.

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