Latest News

Chilean civil court could get access to Vatican documents on Karadima case

Fr Fernando Karadima leaves the court of Santiago on November 11, 2015 after declaring as witness in a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Santiago (Getty Images)

The Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile has requested that the country’s Court of Appeals send an “exhorto” or judicial request, to the Vatican Secretary of State, asking the Vatican to provide all available information about the abuses perpetrated by Fr. Fernando Karadima. The request comes amid litigation following a lawsuit that has accused the archdiocese of covering-up Karadima’s actions.

“This request seeks to obtain all the information that may help determine the facts of the case,”  the archdiocese wrote in a statement.

In Chilean judicial proceedings, an “exhorto” is akin to a subpoena for documents or information.

In 2011, Karadima was declared guilty of sexual abuse by the Vatican, which sentenced him to “a life of prayer and penance, also in reparation of the victims of his abuse.” In addition, the Vatican prohibited him from “the public exercise of any ministerial act, in particular confession or the spiritual direction of all categories of persons.” Controversially, he was not laicized.

In 2015, Juan Carlos Cruz, José Andrés Murillo and James Hamilton, three of Karadima’s victims, filed a lawsuit for “moral damages” against the Archdiocese of Santiago and requested the compensation of 450 million pesos (about $640,000) in addition to a public apology by the Church for the alleged cover-up of abuses.

In March 2017, after an investigation and more than 30 statements given, the Chilean court determined that there was no cover-up by the archdiocese and so dismissed the case.

The plaintiffs appealed the ruling and the lawsuit is now being reviewed by the Court of Appeals.

Archdiocese of Santiago spokesman Nicolas Luco said in a recent statement that “the judicial proceedings have not shown any evidence of cover-up  as the lower court determined and for that reason it’s important to discover any new evidence in this matter.”

On April 28-29, the victims of Karadima met with Pope Francis in the Vatican. Those attending said that “the pope formally asked forgiveness in his own name and in the name of the universal church.”