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Two new complaints added the case of the suspended Jesuit priest Felipe Berríos, accused of acts of “sexual connotation” against minors.
Let us remember that last week the Society of Jesus in Chile announced the start of a canonical investigation against the famous priest.
The congregation explained that Berríos was immediately suspended from his duties until the investigation is concluded, which was opened after a woman filed an accusation against the religious.
“All the necessary means will be available so that this investigation is carried out with the greatest rigor and speed, in order to clarify the facts denounced and the possible responsibilities,” the statement explained.
Berríos, 65, is a well-known Jesuit priest, as well as an activist, writer, columnist and founder of some NGOs such as “Techo”, a Latin American network that helps the homeless.
In a brief statement, the religious assured that “I will do everything necessary to know and clarify the origins of this complaint and I have made myself, from now on, available to the Company to clarify the facts as quickly as possible.”
However, as published this Wednesday by La Segunda, there are already four other people who have given their testimonies against the Jesuit.
These are two people who will testify in favor of the complainant, in addition to two other possible new victims, who, at the time of the events, were between 14 and 17 years old.
The first complainant, who is currently 32 years old, has already testified before the investigating attorney María Elena Santibáñez, who is carrying out the case against Berríos.
According to the evening paper, it would be a teenager, whose family had generated ties with the priest, who would have taken advantage of this trust.
The facts were known in the first instance by the Foundation for Confidence directed by José Andrés Murillo, one of Fernando Karadima’s denouncers, who through his organization supports victims of abuse.
For now, Santibáñez still needs to question Berríos based on this case, who would be in a house belonging to his congregation, after leaving the La Chimba de Antofagasta camp, where he lived.
It is not ruled out that the founder of Techo will finally resign from the priesthood, which, however, does not imply that he is free from the possible sanctions of the canonical investigation.
It should be noted that to date the Public Ministry has not reported the initiation of any ex officio criminal investigation, as the victims were minors at the time of the events.
Chile is one of the Latin American countries most affected by allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and has been adding new cases for more than a decade since the first major scandal of former priest Fernando Karadima came to light.
The Karadima case, denounced for repeated sexual abuse of minors, shook the foundations of one of the most powerful institutions in the country and, in the words of Pope Francis, uncovered “a culture of abuse and cover-up” within the Church.
According to the latest figures published by the Prosecutor’s Office, in 2021 there were still 65 judicial investigations open against 116 people related to the Catholic Church, involving 220 victims, half of whom were minors at the time of the events.
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Priest Felipe Berríos adds two new complaints for acts of sexual connotation