The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has found Chilean priest Father Cristian Precht guilty of abusive conduct and has suspended him from all priestly functions for a period of five years.

According to a statement by the Vicar General of Santiago, Msgr. Cristian Contreras Villarroel, the abuse took place over 20 years ago.

Fr. Precht is known in Chile for his defense of human rights during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. He was one of the founders of the Vicariate of Solidarity, an institution created to help victims of the regime.

In response to the confirmation of the accusations against the priest, Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati decided to issue a decree prohibiting Fr. Precht from “exercising priestly public ministry for a period of five years, leaving to the bishop to power to extend the indicated period for the time he considers appropriate.”  

He is also under a “prohibition from administering the sacrament of confession and giving spiritual direction young people and minors” and is ordered to “live a life of prayer and penance.”

Fr. Precht will also be required to obtain a place of residence approved by Church authorities and must request permission to travel abroad. Failure to adhere to the norms could bring further sanctions, the decree states.

The Chilean priest now has 60 days to appeal the decision of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, in accord with canon law.

“I wish to convey to the ecclesial community the deep sorrow that this and other situations involving priests have caused the victims, the Church, our archbishop and his collaborators,” Msgr. Contreras said in his statement.

“We decided to act quickly to respond rightly and justly to the accounts of the lawsuits filed by the litigants.”

“The Church ought to be the home and school of communion, fraternity and mutual support based on our common faith in Jesus Christ,” he added.

“We wish to renew our institutional commitment to act with diligence, efficiency and above all, with evangelical urgency and ensure safe environments for all persons.”