John O'Reilly leaves a court in Santiago © VN
The de facto expulsion of a "Legionaries of Christ" cleric convicted of abuse is seen as a signal for Chile to deal more harshly with priestly sex offenders. Irish priest must leave Chile within three days.
A priest of the "Legionaries of Christ" convicted of sexual abuse in Chile is expelled from the country. With the expiration of a four-year probation on Monday, 72-year-old Irishman John O'Reilly had a deadline of three days to leave Chile. Earlier, the parliament had revoked an honorary citizenship granted to him. According to the Archdiocese of Santiago on Friday, the clergyman is moving to Rome to await the outcome of an ecclesiastical criminal case.
No priestly duties in public
O'Reilly had accepted an instruction to that effect from his religious superior, it said. Nor will it publicly perform priestly duties, he said. The leadership of the "Legionaries" justified the delegation of the clergyman to the headquarters of the order by saying that his presence in Chile was "no longer necessary".
O'Reilly, born in Ireland in 1946, joined the Legionaries in 1965 and had served in Chile since 1984. In 2014, a Santiago court found him guilty of sexually assaulting a minor while he was a chaplain at a school run by his order. He received a four-year suspended sentence.
The Vatican lets itself too much time with the processing
The cleric's de facto expulsion is seen in part as a signal for Chile to get tougher on priestly sex offenders. Victims of abuse complained that the Vatican was taking too long to come to terms with the case compared to the state justice system. The Catholic Church in Chile has been rocked by an abuse scandal since the beginning of the year.