Bishop Enrique Troncoso of Melipilla in Chile has suspended Father Ricardo Munoz Quinteros from priestly ministry after he was accused of sexual abuse and detained by police. “In the Church there is no room for those who sexually abuse minors,” the bishop said.
In a statement released Wednesday, Bishop Troncoso said he was shocked over the accusations made against the priest and pledged to collaborate with law enforcement officials to uncover the truth about the case. “We trust in the actions of the court and we will respect its findings,” he said.
Bishop Troncoso also explained that the Church would open its own canonical investigation and that Fr. Munoz would be immediately suspended from priestly ministry.
While the conduct attributed to Fr. Munoz is both “inappropriate for the priestly ministry and is a cause for scandal and disappointment,” said the bishop, “the accusation of pedophilia against a clergyman is particularly serious.”
“There is no room in the Church for those who sexually abuse minors.”
Bishop Troncoso continued by expessing his closeness “to all those who, in one way or another, have been affected by this situation, especially the alleged victims and their families.”
Turning to the communities where Fr. Munoz had served, the bishop offered them his prayers during this “time of understandable disappointment and confusion.”
“We ask God and our brothers and sisters for forgiveness," he continued. We also want "to respect the rights of the accused and wait for proof of the accusations and for the trial.”
The Chilean bishops urged Catholics in this Year for Priests to pray that the Church “may learn to confront situations such as these - ones that cause pain to people and to families - with Christian maturity, and that the Lord might grant us holy priests who proclaim the good news of the Gospel, as do the immense majority of the 2,400 priests who serve in Chile.