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Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops over sexual abuse allegations

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Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops over sexual abuse allegations

Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops over sexual abuse allegations
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Pope Francis has defrocked two Chilean bishops "as a consequence of manifest abuse of minors," the Vatican announced on Saturday.

The two men have been named as Francisco José Cox Huneeus, archbishop emeritus of La Serena, in central Chile, and Macro Antonio Ordenes Fernandez, bishop emeritus of Iquique, in the north of the country.

Defrocking — depriving a person of ecclesiastical status and thus his right to exercise the functions of the ordained ministry— is the harshest punishment the Church can inflict on its clergy.

In a statement, the Vatican said that in both cases article 21 of the motu proprio "Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela — an 2001 apolostic letter written by Pope John Paul II outlining the Church's norms for addressing grave crimes — was applied, "as a consequence of manifest abuse of minors."

"The decision, taken by the Pope last Thursday, 11 October 2018, may not be appealed," the statement adds.

The two bishops have been informed by their superiors, according to the statement, which also states that Francisco José Cox Huneeus will however continue to be a member of the Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers.

It follows the defrocking last month of an 88-year-old Chilean priest, Father Fernando Karadima, who sexually abused teenage boys over a period of many years and is at the centre of a wider abuse scandal that is still under investigation.

The Vatican also accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who had been criticised by a US grand jury in August for failing to halt systemic abuse by priests in Pennsylvania during his previous role as archbishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.