Pope Francis expels Chilean priest

The Archdiocese of Santiago said Pope Francis (pictured) decided to defrock the Reverend Cristian Precht.
The Archdiocese of Santiago said Pope Francis (pictured) decided to defrock the Reverend Cristian Precht.PHOTO: AFP

SANTIAGO • Pope Francis has expelled a Chilean priest who is under investigation in a case involving the sexual abuse of children, according to a report by local media last Saturday.

The move comes amid a growing global abuse scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church.

The Archdiocese of Santiago said the Pope decided to defrock the Reverend Cristian Precht, local daily El Mercurio reported.

Mr Precht is a former head of the Church’s Vicariate of Solidarity human rights group, which in the 1980s challenged former dictator Augusto Pinochet to end the practice of torture in Chile.

The well-known Chilean religious leader has since been accused of sexual abuse, as part of investigations into allegations against members of the Marist Brothers religious community.

Mr Precht has previously denied the charges.

Pope Francis’ announcement comes as Chilean police raid church offices throughout the Andean nation, looking for new cases of sexual abuse or evidence that church officials concealed abuse from the authorities.

The Catholic Church worldwide is reeling from crises involving the sexual abuse of minors, deeply damaging confidence in the Church in Chile but also in the United States, Australia and Ireland, where the scandal has hit hardest, and elsewhere.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2018, with the headline 'Pope Francis expels Chilean priest'. Print Edition | Subscribe