Pope Francis has defrocked a well-known Chilean priest who was accused of abuse. Reverend Christian Precht has been defrocked following an investigation into sexual abuse in the Marist Brothers community.
The Roman Catholic Church as a whole has been experiencing a large-scale sexual abuse scandal as past and present victims come to light and levy accusations at current and former officials. Many are incensed at the lack of action and the Church has been accused of engaging in a wide-scale cover up.
Precht was at one time the head of the Church’s Vicariate of Solidarity. The human rights group was very active in the 1980s and at that time they challenged Augusto Pinochet, then the dictator of Chile, to end the practice of torture in that country.
Now, Precht himself is accused of abuse, although abuse that is sexual in nature. He has denied the charges but in the wake of the investigation and accusation, the pope has decided to defrock the priest.
Chile is one of the country’s hardest hit by the scandal, and authorities are now investigating more than 61 schools in the country’s capital, reports Al Jazeera. The Attorney General, Sabas Chahuan, said that 49 schools in eastern Santiago and 12 on the city’s west side will be investigated.
Several teachers throughout the capital city have been accused of molesting students. Most are located in affluent neighborhoods. Reports are on the rise for molestation of children under 14, when compared to recent years, which is doubly concerning.
“Wherever there are children, we will investigate just the same as we do with corruption or economic crimes,” Chahuan said after meeting with representatives of a parents association.
“We put ourselves in the place of the parents and we know they’re worried, anxious and desperate.”
Chilean law bans convicted pedophiles from working with children, but that does not always stop predators, especially if larger organizations like the Catholic Church work to protect them. Chile has as of August implemented a national database for child sex offenders. They will be forced to register if their crimes involved sexually abusing minors or distributing child pornography.
The church scandal has led to a cry for tougher laws and greater protections for victims of childhood sexual abuse in Chile. In addition to the database, a law was proposed to allow victims to provide videotaped testimony, so they are not re-traumatized in court by having to recount their abuse publicly.