Again, a prelate tainted by the scandal retains a prestigious Vatican post

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 13, 2018

  • The Vatican reports that all members of the Council of Cardinals, except for Cardinal Pell, were present at this week’s meeting.
  • Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz is a member of the Council of Cardinals.
  • And sure enough Cardinal Errazuriz participated in the meeting, which in turn indicated that he remains a member of the Pope’s top advisory board.
  • This is the same Cardinal Errazuriz who has acknowledged that he delayed for five years before formally investigating abuse charges against the notorious Father Fernando Karadima, the same Cardinal Errazuriz who has been described as a “criminal” by Karadima’s victims. The same Cardinal Errazuriz who urged the Vatican not to hear testimony from Karadima’s most prominent accuser.
  • While the cardinal had denied deliberately covering up Karadima’s abuse, even the most benign view of his action (and inaction) shows him to have been woefully negligent. He has, understandably, become a focal point for Chilean critics of the hierarchy. So it was not surprising that when Pope Francis summoned the Chilean bishops to Rome in May for a discussion of the scandal Cardinal Errazuriz did not attend. At the time I joined in the widespread speculation that the Chilean cardinal would be quietly dropped from the Council of Cardinals.
  • Chile’s active bishops joined in a dramatic mass resignation after that May meeting in Rome. Cardinal Errazuriz, however, did not submit his resignation—for the simple reason that he has already retired from active pastoral ministry. His resignation as Archbishop of Santiago took effect in 2010, when he was 77 years old. His advanced age (now approaching 85) would seem to provide another good reason for replacing him on the Council of Cardinals.
  • So while 31 Chilean bishops have offered to relinquish their diocesan assignments, Pope Francis has chosen to retain among his top advisors a cardinal who is far beyond retirement age and has become a lightning-rod for criticism. For those of us waiting to see how the Pontiff responds to the Chilean bishops’ resignations, this is not a promising sign.
  • Earlier this week the Pope finally accepted the resignation of Bishop Juan Barros, the Chilean prelate with the closest ties to Karadima. Bishop Barros had offered his resignation twice in the past, and the Pope had chosen to keep him in office. But better late than never; this was a step in the right direction.
  • One step forward, one step back.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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