More and more priests and officials of the Catholic Church are resigning, following their involvement in sexual abuse cases in which they committed, or they covered up upon the fact. The swath of resignations and stepping down by members of the clergy follows the renewed commitment of the Vatican to fight against sexual abuse within the Church and the historic four-day summit called by Pope Francis to address the problem last February.
The latest of these members of the Church that have submitted their resignation is the Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who agreed to step down along with his country’s bishops over alleged sexual abuse cases and cover-up. Pope Francis accepted the resignation, the Vatican said Saturday.
Archbishop of Santiago Ricardo Ezzati is the seventh senior church official from Chile to resign over sexual abuse scandal. The Pope has since insisted the problem should be remedied and concrete measures should be undertaken to resolve the crisis.
Ezzati maintains his right to silence although he vowed to cooperate with the investigation into his activities under the conditions that the authorities first clear him for he is “innocent.” He is the Catholic Church’s highest official in Chile.
Along with Ezzati, there are a few other high ranking Vatican officials and priest that have been involved in sexual abuse cases around the world. Some of them were even convicted and sentenced with jail time for either being a participant to the abuse of for covering-up the sexual abuse committed by their priests and bishops. Here are some of the disgraced Church officials that were involved in clergy abuse in the past few months:
CARDINAL GEORGE PELL
Australian Cardinal George Pell was convicted in a secret trial in December for charges relating to sexual abuse of choirboys in the late 70s.
The existence of the sexual abuse trial of Cardinal George Pell, Vatican Treasurer and a close adviser to Pope Francis, only surfaced late February because of a ban from the court to disclose the details of the trial to the media. Cardinal Pell was convicted with sexual penetration of a child and four counts of an indecent act with or in the presence of a Child for the incidents that happened in the 1990s. Pell is the most senior Vatican official to be convicted of sexual abuse.
According to court documents, the assault happened to the victim and another boy in Melbourne’s historic St. Patrick Cathedral, when the Cardinal forced one choirboy to do oral sex on him. He also performed several other indecent activities to other choir boys, who he caught drinking wine in his sacristy, a small room at the back of the Church. One of the victims later died of a drug overdose, while the other lived to tell his story that has caused him to experience ‘shame, loneliness, (and) depression.’
The Cardinal has ever since denied the allegations against him and his lawyers have strongly argued against the testimony of the victim saying that it is ‘an embellishment on a fantasy.’ He is now planning to appeal the decision to overturn his verdict.
CARDINAL PHILIPPE BARBARIN
French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon came to Pope Francis on March 18 to hand his resignation after he was convicted by a French court of covering up a sexual abuse case and gave him a six-month suspended sentence for the said crime. Pope Francis refused to accept the resignation tendered by the convicted Cardinal. Instead, he [Cardinal Barbarin] said that he is just going away for a while and step aside temporarily for the good of the archdiocese and he is just following the guidance of the Holy See.
According to a statement published by the Archdiocese of Lyon on March 19, Pope Francis did not accept the resignation request of the cardinal citing “presumption of innocence.” An appeal to the decision handed by a French court on March 7 has been filed by the lawyers of the cardinal to overturn the said conviction.
The cardinal’s decision to temporarily vacate his post in the Archdiocese of Lyon follows the guidance of Pope Francis who said that he should do whatever he felt necessary for the good of the archdiocese. “At his suggestion and because the church of Lyon has been suffering for three years, I decided to step away for a while and leave the leadership of the diocese to the vicar general,” Barbarin said.