The Chilean religious Fernando Karadima, condemned by the Church of sexual abuse, in a file image VLADIMIR RODAS / AFP
Influential, trainer of priests and bishops and face of the attachment of a part of the Chilean Catholic Church to economic and social power, Fernando Karadima died this Sunday in Santiago de Chile at the age of 90. He died in a residence without having spent a day in prison, despite the fact that the former religious - expelled just three years ago - was proven a sexual and spiritual abuser from the well-to-do El Bosque parish in the Chilean capital. Symbol of the double standards of the institution, which led Pope Francis to a historic cleanup after his eventful visit to the country in 2018, Karadima has been listed as the Chilean Marcial Maciel. Three of his victims, who dared to uncover the plot more than a decade ago,they have become tireless activists in the fight against the culture of abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church that destroyed countless lives of children and young people both in Chile and around the world.
The Pope feels "pain and shame" for the sexual abuse of the Chilean church
“Fernando Karadima, a former Catholic priest who sexually and spiritually abused many people, including us, has died,” wrote on Monday the journalist Juan Carlos Cruz, the doctor James Hamilton and the doctor of Philosophy José Andrés Murillo, who directs the Foundation for Confidence, which fights against child sexual abuse. “Everything we had to say about Karadima has been said. He was one more link in this culture of perversion and concealment in the Church. We are at peace and we are only moved to continue fighting so that these crimes do not happen again and for so many people who have lived through it and who still do not have justice, "said the complainants of the
, who last year published the book
Abuse and can. The story of his fight against the Catholic Church.
It was not easy to uncover the system that Karadima set up to commit abuses and keep them secret, with the complicity of part of the local hierarchy. Hamilton graphed it: "I always think of 'The Ice Age' where a little squirrel fractures a glacier," the Chilean confessed on social networks. Despite the fact that the Vatican sentenced him to a life of penance and prayer in 2011 after finding him guilty of sexual abuse of minors and adults - in parallel to the abuses of power - the courts could not bring charges against him for the time that had elapsed. , although they managed to prove the crimes committed by the ex-religious. For the complainants, however, there has been justice: "Chile woke up," wrote Hamilton in relation to the 2019 law that declares the imprescriptibility of sexual abuse of children and adolescents. It was,largely thanks to the action of the victims of the
Diocesan priest born in 1930, in Antofagasta, in northern Chile, built a kind of sect from El Bosque parish, in the wealthy Providencia municipality of the Chilean capital, where in parallel he formed a financial empire. From this place, Karadima pushed Catholic Action, a branch made up of young lay people, and the Pious Priestly Union, made up of seminarians and priests who owed him devotion and loyalty, even above the hierarchy of the Church. He was the perfect gear to perpetrate his abuses with impunity for decades, because not only was he a religious formator of new priestly vocations - which is why he was considered almost a saint by the parishioners and disciples - but because from this space he was gaining influence among the Chilean upper class. In the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990),When a good part of the Church dedicated itself fully to the fight for human rights from the Vicariate of Solidarity, Karadima marked differences with the opposition and supported the military regime.
Both laity and priests were among its victims. Ordained in 1958, in his decades of priesthood he normalized kissing near the mouth and patting on the butt for young men and aspiring religious. For his abuses to a greater degree, he chose adolescents with some vulnerability and rewarded them with greater responsibilities in the El Bosque parish. It was in his room, on one side of the temple, where he committed a good part of the abuses. When they were uncovered in 2010, his influential circles of adherents tried to interfere on his behalf in the Prosecutor's Office and the Vatican. In early 2018, when Pope Francis visited Chile, his tour collapsed after publicly supporting Bishop Juan Barros, the cover-up for the case. "There is no single evidence against him, everything is slander," said the Supreme Pontiff.
The Pope's remarks sparked such a level of outrage that he later realized his mistake and commissioned a landmark investigation. He invited some of the abused to his residence to hear their testimonies and summoned the Chilean Episcopal Conference to the Vatican, where the 34 bishops had to submit their resignation. It was the beginning of a new policy by Francisco to address these types of cases in the world. Last March, he made a new gesture towards Chile: he appointed Juan Carlos Cruz - one of the three victims of Karadima - as a member for three years of the Commission for the Protection of Minors. "This renews my commitment to continue working to end the scourge of abuse and for so many survivors who still do not obtain justice," said the Chilean journalist four months ago.
Subscribe here to the
EL PAÍS América
and receive all the information keys on the region's current affairs