.- The Diocese of Valparaiso in Chile says it is determined to establish the facts surrounding accusations of sexual abuse that a former seminarian, now a protestant minister, has leveled against two bishops and five priests.
“We want to know the truth, and both the accuser and the accused are free to speak out responsibly and to be listened to with respect,” read an April 10 statement signed by Vicar General Msgr. Leopoldo Nunez Huerta and posted on the Chilean bishops' conference website.
During a television interview on April 3, the accuser, Mauricio Andres Pulgar Lazo, alleged he was the victim of sexual and psychological abuse while in the seminary at age 13.
In addition to naming several priests in his accusations, he also alleged abuse by Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Bishop emeritus Javier Prado of the Diocese of Rancagua.
“I am not an enemy of the Catholic Church. The enemy is in those who don’t want to keep their promises. The only thing I am asking of these people is that they overcome their fear of speaking out, they know that silence doesn’t solve anything,” Pulgar Lazo said.
The Diocese of Valparaiso said it has consulted with civil and ecclesial attorneys and has named a special investigator to look into the allegations.
The statement said the investigation into the allegations against the two bishops will be handled by the Holy See through the Apostolic Nunciature in Chile.
Msgr. Nunez Huerta said the Diocese is responding to the accusations in accord with the guidelines established by the Bishops’ Conference of Chile for handling cases of sexual abuse. The results of the ecclesial investigation will be made public once the process is complete, he said.
The statement emphasized that both the bishops and the priests involved in the allegations “have maintained their innocence regarding the charges against them and they have expressed their intention to fully cooperation with the canonical investigation that is underway.”