.- Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, Chile has decided to canonically disband the Priestly Union of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, led for many years by disgraced priest Father Fernando Karadima.
“We are looking forward,” Archbishop Ezzati told reporters April 16. “The past is gone, of course it has consequences for the future, but we should emphasis the dynamism that the Resurrection of the Lord and the Gospel of the Lord offer us.”
In 2011 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found the Chilean priest guilty of sexual abuse and ordered him to retire to a life of penance and prayer. In its decree, the congregation suggested that the Priestly Union receive an apostolic visitation.
The visitation was ordered to examine the economic management of the association as well as its formation program and was carried out by Uruguayan Bishop Carlos Maria Collazi of Mercedes between December 4-8, 2011, and January 25-27, 2012.
In August of 2010, before the congregation's ruling, ten priests of the Union decided to leave the association after concluding that the charges against Father Karadima were likely to be true.
In a statement this week, the Archdiocese of Santiago said the decision to canonically close the Union “was made independently of the apostolic visitation” and after consultation with the members of the Union’s governing council.
“The aim of this juridical act is to build new meaningful bonds of charity and fraternity between the members of the clergy of Santiago, to grow in their identification with Jesus Christ, in communion and collaboration with the Bishop and the presbytery of the Archdiocese, giving living witness to the desire of Jesus that “all may be one,'” the archdiocese said.
Archbishop Ezzati told the press that the goal now is “for the clergy to be united, very united to the bishop and to each other.”
“We want to overcome, and I think that with this we are overcoming, conflicts and issues that at one point were very difficult for the life of this community and that had an influence on the life of the Church and the country.”