Vatican sex abuse investigator hospitalized in Chile

Archbishop Charles Scicluna looks on during a press conference prior to a meeting with people who claim to have been victims of sexual abuse by members of the Church, in Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. Scicluna, arrived in Chile on Monday, sent by the Pope Francis to gather testimonies accusing the Archbishop of Osorno of covering up sexual abuses committed by priest Fernando Karadima. (AP Photo/ Luis Hidalgo)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The special envoy sent by Pope Francis to investigate allegations that a bishop had covered up sex abuse underwent gallbladder surgery Wednesday in Chile, church officials said.

Maltese archbishop Charles Scicluna was stable and conscious after the surgery and his hospital recovery will take between 48 and 72 hours, the curia for Scicluna's archdiocese in Malta said in a brief statement issued by a Chilean hospital.

Advertisement

Scicluna entered the hospital Tuesday after starting his interviews with victims and others opposed to the appointment of a bishop accused of covering up for the country's most notorious pedophile priest.

The spokesman for the Chilean Catholic bishop's conference, Jaime Coiro, said Scicluna had been suffering abdominal pain since last week. Coiro said the pope has asked that interviews with witnesses continue Wednesday through Friday as planned. For now, they are to be handled by Jordi Bertomeu, a Spanish priest who has been serving as Scicluna's translator and notary.

"We hope that (Scicluna) recovers sooner than expected, so that at least he can rejoin the meetings Friday," Coiro said.

Scicluna came to Chile to investigate complaints about Bishop Juan Barros. The case has dented the reputation of Pope Francis, who sparked outrage in Chile during a recent visit by strongly defending Barros and saying accusations against him were slander.

Barros has been accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring the abuse of young parishioners by the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was removed from ministry and sentenced to a lifetime of "penance and prayer" in 2010.

Barros has denied knowing of the abuse.

Barros has been a bishop since 1995, but his 2015 appointment to the city of Osorno by Francis caused outrage after the Karadima scandal had eroded the Catholic Church's credibility in Chile. He has faced protests in Osorno by priests and lay Catholics who question how someone who says he never saw anything suspicious at the parish could be trusted to protect Osorno's children today.

Jose Andres Murillo, one of the three victims who have spoken publicly of abuse of Karadima and have accused Barros of a cover-up, came Wednesday to meet with the investigators. He said that Bertomeu and Scicluna are showing another side of the Catholic church and that he hopes the information that they have gathered goes straight to the pope.

"It's very gratifying, and in a way, also refreshing, that people from the church finally invite you to talk and hear what we've lived through," Murillo said after meeting Bertomeu.

"They're taking things seriously when it comes to the abuse, the cover-up and the dynamics that have marked the Karadima case."

__

Associated Press writers Nicole Winfield in the Vatican and Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The news from Ireland and the United States reminds us of Herod, of Pharaoh. What culture betrays its children?
The EditorsMay 26, 2018
A woman religious casts her ballot May 25 in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on its law on abortion. Voters went to the polls May 25 to decide whether to liberalize the country's abortion laws. (CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters)
The repeal of Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn, is passing by a 2-1 margin with most of the votes counted.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Secretary of Education stirred up controversy when she said it was up to schools to decide if an undocumented student should be reported to authorities.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 25, 2018
Thousands gathered in Dublin May 12 to say "Love Both" and "Vote No" to abortion on demand. They were protesting abortion on demand in the forthcoming referendum May 25. (CNS photo/John McElroy)
“Priests and bishops get verbal abuse by being told, ‘How can you speak for women? You don’t know what it’s like!’”
America StaffMay 25, 2018