Three victims of former Chilean priest Fernando Karadima filed a complaint last week against Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, accusing him of perjury in the civil suit for compensation for damages filed against the Archdiocese of Santiago.
The complaint was filed in a Santiago court Oct. 25 by attorney Juan Pablo Hermosilla, representing Juan Carlos Cruz, José Andrés Murillo, and James Hamilton.
The legal action states that in September 2015 Cardinal Errázuriz, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago, gave a statement as a witness under oath which “in the light of subsequent facts constitutes the crime of perjury.”
In his statement, the cardinal said that when he was Achbishop of Santiago, “in June 2006, I did not close the process (against Karadima) but put it on hold; the resignation of the priest from the parish is for them to decide.”
However, several weeks ago an e-mail was seized by regional prosecutor Emiliano Arias Madariaga which Cardinal Errázuriz sent Feb. 1, 2009 to the then-Apostolic Nuncio to Chile, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto.
According to La Tercera news Cardenal Errázuriz says in the e-mail: “Out of respect for Fr. Karadima, I did not ask the Promoter (of Justice) to interrogate him; I just asked Bishop Andrés Arteaga his opinion. He considered everything to be absolutely implausible. As it was beyond the statutes of limitations, I closed the investigation. That is how I wanted to protect them, aware that my way of proceeding, if the accusers would one day bring the case to the press, would turn against me.”
Based on this, the complainants are asking the Public Prosecutor’s Office to issue a summons to Cardinal Errázuriz as the accused, and as witnesses Archbishop Pinto; the minister of the Court of Appeals, Juan Manuel Muñoz; Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago; and the Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago, Andrés Arteaga Manieu.
This complaint relates to the lawsuit for “moral damages” against the Archdiocese of Santiago filed in 2015 by Cruz, Murillo, and Hamilton, in which they ask for 450 million pesos (about $640,000) in compensation, in addition to a public apology from the Church for the alleged cover-up of abuse committed by Karadima.
Regarding the e-mail by Cardinal Errázuriz, according to El Mercurio news, the Court of Appeals “did not accept the request to incorporate the document madead videndi (in order to be seen) by the plaintiffs’ counsel at the hearing of the case, given that it was not added in a timely or legal manner to the case” and so could not be used as evidence.
The Court of Appeals also denied the request by the Archdiocese of Santiago for the court to to ask the Vatican to provide all the documentation from the canonical investigation surrounding Karadima compiled in the report by Archbishop Charles Scicluna.
Karadima was found guilty of sexual abuse by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011.
On Oct. 26, the Santiago Court of Appeals rejected the appeal by the Karadima victims which sought to cancel a Nov. 20 conciliation hearing the civil courts ordered in the lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Santiago for cover-up.
The appeal filed Oct. 24 argued that the process of conciliation would be very trying for the victims. However, the president of the Ninth Chamber of the Court of Appeals, Miguel Vasquez, explained to the press that this action “is not a way to reject a conciliation.”
That is, the way to proceed is “formally to formulate it at the hearing, or simply not make any presentation.”