SANTIAGO – Victims of sexual abuse carried out for years by Rev. Fernando Karadima urged the Chilean judiciary to act independently and punish the abuses and cover up within the Catholic church.
“History will tell us if the Chilean state and its judges were in favor of abuse and corruption, and were subjugated by the power of the church, or if they are an autonomous power that does the work it is meant to do, namely to deliver verdicts,” said James Hamilton, one of the accusers.
Hamilton and two other victims filed a civil suit in 2011 against the Archdiocese of Santiago for covering up the abuses carried out by Karadima, who was condemned that same year under canon law to a life of seclusion and penance.
A judge dismissed the suit in March 2017, leading the accusers, represented by attorney Juan Pablo Hermosilla, to file an appeal.
The case is now before the Santiago Court of Appeals.
Hamilton said that the courts must clearly show they are defending the most vulnerable within society.
“The important thing is not what the Pope or the church think, but rather that we are a sovereign country and that Chile must continue to be independent in its laws and in the protection of the most vulnerable people,” he said during a press conference.
Jose Andres Murillo, another one of the plaintiffs, said that the abuses and the cover up had already been proven and were even acknowledged by the Vatican, meaning that it was time for the Chilean state and its courts to deliver a verdict.
The Karadima case is one of the most notorious clerical sexual abuse scandals in Chile because of the priest’s great influence both inside and outside the church, as he had forged strong ties with members of the country’s economic and political elite.
According to records released by prosecutors in August, there are currently 119 ongoing investigations against 167 people linked to the church, while 178 sexual abuse victims have been identified, 79 of whom were minors when they were abused.