Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Santiago de Chile, Ricardo Ezzati, imputed in his country for the alleged cover-up of cases of sexual abuse, and has appointed in its place an apostolic administrator. The Holy See has made the announcement today in a statement, but without giving further details.
He will occupy his position as administrator "in vacant seat" Monsignor Celestino Years Braco, Spanish and until now bishop of the city of Copiapó (north). The bishops must present their resignation to the pope at the age of 75, but the departure of Ezzati, 77, occurs just at a time when in his country is investigated for allegedly covering up cases of sexual abuse of minors by cures The Chilean justice rejected Friday the petition of definitive dismissal presented by the defense of the archbishop.
The Office of the Prosecutor of Chile investigates the participation of the archbishop of Santiago in the facts attributed to the ex-chancellor of the capital archbishopric Oscar Muñoz, accused of rape and abuse, and of the priest Jorge Laplagne, denounced for the events of 2002. He is also allegedly accused of the cover-up of priest Tito Rivera, accused of abuse in the cathedral of Santiago in 2015.
While Ezzati faces this process, Pope Francis has placed the Spanish Monsignor, Braco (Artaiz, Pamplona, 1945) in charge of the archdiocese of the Chilean capital. He completed his philosophical studies in Zaragoza and the theological ones in Pamplona, graduated in Psychology from the University of Barcelona and entered as a Capuchin Franciscan in 1964. He was ordained a priest in Pamplona in 1968 and as such has held positions as Provincial Treasurer of the Capuchins in Chile, promoter of justice (fiscal) of the ecclesiastical tribunal of Valparaiso and treasurer of the Chilean Association of Canon Law. In 2014 he was appointed bishop of Copiapó.
The Episcopal Conference of Chile published last August a list with the names of 42 priests and a deacon condemned by civil or canonical justice for sexual abuse of minors. The Chilean prosecutor's office investigates 148 cases of alleged sexual abuse committed by people linked to the Catholic Church, while the number of victims amounts to 255, according to the national prosecutor reported last January.