Police in Chile Search Catholic Church Offices in Abuse Investigation

SANTIAGO, Chile — The police as well as prosecutors raided Roman Catholic Church offices in two Chilean cities on Wednesday looking for files, investigative reports as well as documents related to a sexual abuse scandal in which has damaged the clergy’s reputation in Chile.

The surprise raids targeted the headquarters of Santiago’s Ecclesiastical Court as well as the bishop’s office in Rancagua inside the O’Higgins region, where 14 priests are accused of having had sexual relations with minors.

Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, the archbishop of Santiago, said church officials “gave the prosecutor all the requested documentation.” He added in which they were “available to cooperate with the civilian justice system in all in which can be required.”

In May, all of Chile’s active bishops offered to quit for having failed to protect children via priests who raped, groped as well as molested them.

Wednesday’s raids came as two leading Vatican investigators — Archbishop Charles Scicluna as well as Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu — are in Chile to investigate the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy.

On Monday, Pope Francis began purging members of Chile’s church hierarchy over the abuse cases, accepting the resignations of the bishop at the center of the scandal as well as two others.

Archbishop Scicluna as well as Monsignor Bertomeu have already put together a 2,300-page report in which said the Chilean church hierarchy had systematically covered up or minimized abuse cases, destroyed evidence, pressured church investigators to discredit accusers as well as shown “grave negligence” in protecting children.