World’s oldest living archbishop stands accused of sexual abuse

World’s oldest living archbishop stands accused of sexual abuse August 23, 2019
Image via YouTube

ARCHBISHOP Bernardino Piñera, 103, the uncle of  Chile’s billionaire President Sebastian Piñera, is being investigated by the Vatican over allegations that he sexually abused a minor 50 years ago. The news was announced by the Holy See’s embassy in Chile earlier this week.

Soon after the announcement, the President said:

As a nephew, I find it hard to believe because I know his behavior, his attitude over a lifetime, and I find it hard to believe a complaint that is made against a man who’s 103 years old today, over an alleged event that occurred 50 years ago.

But despite his personal disbelief, the President urged that the investigation be continued.

Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera. Image via YouTube.

Piñera’s words came during a visit to Temuco, in central Chile. Asked about his uncle, he said that his government’s position is:

Firm, clear and consistent: Any complaint must be rigorously investigated to verify its likelihood and to clarify the truth, and this case is no exception.

The Vatican’s announcement only confirmed that Piñera is accused of abusing a minor, but gave no further details about the accusation.

The statement said that they reached out to the person who has filed the complaint and that, at the same time, they’re respecting the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Archbishop Piñera issued a statement saying that he’d learned about the Vatican’s investigation against him through the press statement.

I manifest that I am unaware of the accusation that has given rise to [the investigation] and I offer my full disposition to collaborate in the clarification of it. I attest that, during my long priestly life that began in 1945, I always had impeccable behavior.

image via YouTube

The archbishop had previously been accused by abuse survivors of covering up for his successor, former Archbishop Francisco Cox, above, who was removed from the priesthood by Pope Francis last year.

Though it’s unclear when Cox’s acts of abuse began, it’s been well documented that by the year 1974, when he arrived as bishop in the Chilean diocese of Chillan, Cox was already abusing minors.

From Chillan, Cox would move on to become secretary of the Vatican’s former Pontifical Council for the Family, a position he held from 1981 until 1985, when he was sent back to Chile as coadjutor bishop of La Serena, to replace Piñera. In 1987 he was tapped to organize Pope John Paul II’s visit to Chile, which allowed him to become close to then-Archbishop Angelo Sodano, papal representative in the country.

Cox was eventually named archbishop of La Serena, a position he kept until 1997, when his resignation was discreetly accepted by the Vatican. It came five years after a priest made a formal complaint to the bishops’ conference claiming he had discovered Cox having sex with a young man.

Francis has accepted the resignation of eight Chilean bishops over the past year, after all of them offered to step down in May 2018. The country’s bishops have found themselves engulfed in scandal due to decades of mismanagement, cover-up and, in some cases, personally having committed sexual abuse.

In addition, nine bishops have been summoned by the prosecutors’ office to testify on charges that they either covered up for abuse or sexually abused minors and young seminarians themselves. Among those accused of covering up abuse is Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who was removed by Francis as Archbishop of Santiago earlier this year.

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  • Broga

    “I attest that, during my long priestly life that began in 1945, I always had impeccable behavior.” says Pinera. I think he has a touch of the “Queen Gertrude” in Hamlet.

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”, she says. I get the same feeling about Pinera. None of us “always have impeccable behaviour” and priests are among the least likely to achieve that exalted record.

  • persephone

    Well, his behavior was impeccable per standard Vatican guidelines.

  • Robert McLean

    There may be a marketing opportunity here for the Vatican’s Chile outpost. Why not, when they stumble across an untainted cleric in their cabal, put the the priest in a snow cone of dip said priest on clear PVC and flog them off to sucker pilgrims or even keep them handy as the priest parade through the courts continues as an example of clerics behaving responsibly?

  • Freethinker

    Precisely. If you can get away with raping boys for half a century you get a special Eucharist cookie and an official pat on the back from the Pope.