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Chilean bishop accused of abusing minor resigns, in rare case of Vatican investigating bishop
The resignation of Bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez of Iquique, Chile, marks one of the few times that the Vatican has acknowledged publicly that it was investigating a bishop for sex abuse allegations. Advocates for clerical sex abuse victims have long complained that the Vatican has looked the other way when bishops have been accused of abuse or of covering it up.
The Vatican said Tuesday that the pope has accepted Ordenes’ resignation under the code of canon law that says a bishop must resign if he is sick or because some other “grave” reason makes him unsuitable for his job.
The 47-year-old Ordenes suffers from a liver ailment and has been seeking medical treatment. But the Vatican Embassy in Santiago confirmed Oct. 2 that it had been investigating Ordenes since April, and was offering psychological and other care to “those affected.”
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the link between the resignation and the investigation “can be considered obvious.”
Ordenes is accused of abusing a 15-year-old altar boy in the northern city of Iquique. The former bishop admits he had “an imprudent act” with his accuser but says that he met him in 1999 when he was 17 and that they had a relationship when he was no longer underage.
“My conscience is clear before God and that’s what matters,” Ordenes told Chilean newspaper La Tercera in a recent interview.
His accuser, Rodrigo Pino, 30, says the abuse began when he was 15. At first, he said it was forced, but then they became lovers.
The Associated Press doesn’t normally name victims of alleged sexual abuse, but Pino has gone very public with his claims. [More]