Vatican special investigators in Chile's abuse scandal continue their work this Thursday with a visit to the Osorno diocese. There are accusations against an alleged network of 14 priests.
The current crisis was sparked by allegations of a cover-up against the head of the diocese, Juan Barros, who has since resigned. The papal delegates, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Jordi Bertomeu, plan to visit parishes and meet with lay representatives, religious and the clergy of the diocese through Sunday, the Chilean Bishops' Conference announced Wednesday evening (local time). The small southern Chilean diocese of Osorno counts 22 parishes.
Allegations against 14 priests
A mass is planned for Sunday to begin a "path of reparation and reconciliation," they said. Afterwards, the envoys will return to the capital Santiago for two more days.
On Wednesday, police and prosecutors had searched the offices of the church courts in Santiago and in Rancagua in the wake of the abuse scandal. In Rancagua, there are accusations against an alleged network of 14 priests who also committed sexual offenses against minors.
The Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, said according to Chilean media that they cooperate with justice. All requested documents have been handed over to prosecutors, he said.
Acknowledge and admit truth
Vatican investigator Scicluna, longtime chief prosecutor for abuse crimes, stressed to reporters Wednesday that the church must cooperate with the state justice system. A canonical procedure should in no way hinder the right to a clarification before civil courts, he said.
Prerequisite for any healing is "to acknowledge and admit the whole truth". Attention and help must first and foremost be given to the victims. At the same time, Scicluna stressed the right of the accused to a fair trial.
On Wednesday evening, Scicluna met with representatives of the Chilean public prosecutor's office. He himself spoke of a "courtesy visit," according to the media. Attorney General Jorge Abbott announced at the meeting that Chile will soon submit a formal request for information to the Vatican about sex crimes committed by church employees.
Making amends to victims
Even with crimes that are time-barred, it is important to establish the truth and provide reparations to victims, he said. Various proceedings are currently underway; from the point of view of the public prosecutor's office, there is no need to bundle the investigations, Abbott said, according to a press release.
Vatican ambassador to Chile criticized by abuse victims gets backing from Scicluna. There is "excellent cooperation" with Nuncio Ivo Scapolo, Scicluna said in response to a journalist's question.