Pope Francis will receive Chilean President Sebastián Piñera at the Vatican on Saturday, October 13, sources close to the Vatican reported Tuesday. It is a special audience that will be marked by the worst crisis in the history of the Chilean Church, plunged into a multitude of complaints of sexual abuse committed by religious.
Piñera embarks on October 5 an official tour of Europe to visit France, Spain, Germany and Belgium and which will also include the Vatican. This is the first tour Piñera has taken to Europe since he assumed the presidency for the second time in March.
The meeting will take place after last Friday the Pope expelled the Chilean pederast Fernando Karadima from the priesthood, the biggest condemnation in the Church, confirming his will to want to do a thorough cleaning of the institution, as required by different sectors of the society.
The Chilean prosecutor's office investigates 158 bishops, priests and laypeople as authors or accessories in cases of sexual abuse of minors and adults that span almost six decades, and requests information about them from the Vatican.
"I am Catholic and I deeply regret what happens in the Church (…) many of them (high religious authorities) were wrong, instead of protecting children, they protected themselves," lamented Piñera in July.
Francisco has ceased altogether seven Chilean bishops accused of committing sexual abuse of minors and of concealment.
In May, the Chilean bishops, more than thirty, resigned en bloc after meeting with Francisco, who victims and experts ask to apply more firmly the "zero tolerance" against pedophilia.
The Argentine pope will receive the Chilean president a few days after the International Court of Justice rejected the lawsuit filed by Bolivia to force Chile to negotiate an exit to the sea. The Pope, during his visit to Bolivia in 2015, had called for dialogue on this issue between the two countries.