SANTIAGO – An 80-year-old Chilean priest who trained numerous other clergy members, five of whom went on to become bishops, is being investigated by prosecutors and church officials for alleged sexual abuse of minors, local media reported.
Santiago Archbishop Francisco Javier Errazuriz confirmed the church probe against Fernando Karadima Fariña, erstwhile parish priest at the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus de El Bosque church in Santiago’s upscale Providencia neighborhood.
The investigation was launched after a former altar boy at the parish named James Hamilton Sanchez, now a 44-year-old doctor, accused Karadima Fariña of sexual abuse. The allegations date back about two decades and therefore Hamilton may not have been a minor when the alleged abuse occurred.
El Mercurio daily reported Thursday that members of that parish recalled that Karadima Fariña presided over Hamilton’s wedding and baptized his children and said the accusation stemmed from a falling-out between the two after the doctor’s marriage ended in divorce.
The Santiago archbishop, for his part, said the priest trained “five clergy members who currently are bishops and who are very grateful for what he did for them,” La Tercera daily reported.
Attorney Juan Pablo Hermosilla, meanwhile, has filed criminal charges in Santiago against Karadima Fariña on behalf of four people who say they were also sexually abused by the priest, one of whom is Hamilton.
Hermosilla told reporters Thursday that the complaints of alleged abuse were brought to the attention of the church some time ago and that the victims had been reluctant to file criminal charges “because they are Catholics who trust the ecclesiastical institutions.”
“The abuse in these cases is the product of manipulation because he was their spiritual guide, the one they confessed to. He therefore has a very strong power over them,” the attorney told El Mercurio’s online edition Thursday.
On Tuesday, the Chilean Catholic Church for the first time asked forgiveness for alleged sexual abuse involving priests and urged victims to report these “very grave sins” to church officials so that they do not reoccur.
Five priests have been convicted and five are currently being prosecuted. Ten others are under investigation or have already been acquitted. EFE