Pope Francis has defrocked a Chilean priest formerly convicted of sexual abuse, the Vatican said in a statement Friday.
“Pope Francis has dismissed from the clerical state Fernando Karadima Farina, from the archdiocese of Santiago del Chile. The Holy Father has taken this exceptional decision in conscious and for the good of the Church,” the statement said.
The Vatican found Karadima guilty in 2011 of several counts of sexual abuse and sentenced him to a life of penance and prayer.
The Pope’s move, dismissal from the clerical state, is the strongest sanction he can give.
“We were facing a very serious rot case, and it had to be rooted out,” said Greg Burke, director of the Holy See press office, in an audio statement in Spanish. “This is an exceptional measure, no doubt, but the serious crimes of Karadima created an exceptional damage in Chile.”
This month, Francis expelled the Reverend Cristian Precht Bañados of Chile, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Santiago.
That was the first formal resignation the Pope has decreed since every bishop in Chile offered to step down in May over the country’s sex abuse scandal. The Chilean bishops’ offer was thought to be unprecedented in the modern history of the Catholic Church.
The Pope called the bishops to Rome after receiving a 2,300-page report detailing sexual abuses by priests in Chile.
The report alleged that for decades church officials in Chile knew about and covered up cases of sexual abuse, even destroying records.
Last month, police arrested a former Chilean priest over the alleged abuse of seven minors. Prosecutors say 158 people, including bishops, priests and lay people are under investigation.