Santiago — There has been no cover up by Chile's Catholic church of the abuses committed by its most infamous pedophile priest, the archbishop of Santiago said on Thursday.
Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati spoke after testifying in a case brought against the church by three victims of the Rev. Fernando Karadima. The Vatican sanctioned Karadima in 2011 to a lifetime of penance and prayer for having abused young boys. A Chilean judge later dismissed a criminal case because the statute of limitations had expired, but she determined the abuse allegations were truthful.
"I answered all the questions and I hope it helps to clarify the stance of the church, which is of love for the truth and understanding for those who have been victims," Ezzati said after being questioned for two hours at a court hearing in Santiago.
"There has been no cover up by the Church."
The three victims are demanding a monetary compensation and a public apology.
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In September, leaked emails between Ezzati and his predecessor, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, showed how they tried to block one of Karadima's abuse survivors from being named to Pope Francis' sex abuse commission, fearing it would damage the church.
The Santiago archdiocese later confirmed the authenticity of the emails dated 2013 and 2014, where the two men discussed the key Vatican cardinals they needed to consult to try to prevent Juan Carlos Cruz from being invited to speak at a meeting of Anglophone bishops on sex abuse.
"From my side there are no offensive expressions or any obstacles at all," Ezzati said about the email exchanges after the hearing.
The emails have been harshly criticized in Chile.
Karadima had a huge following and led a parish in Santiago for nearly six decades before allegations against him came to light in April 2010. Two months later Errazuriz forwarded allegations to the Vatican.
Victims say allegations against Karadima were first reported to Errazuriz in 2003, but that he ignored them. Errazuriz, who is one of Francis' nine key cardinal advisers, has acknowledged in court testimony that he failed to act on several abuse allegations because he believed them to be untrue.