VATICAN CITY • Pope Francis on Saturday defrocked two more Chilean bishops accused of sexually abusing minors, and to show greater transparency about how he’s responding to the church’s sex abuse crisis, he explained why they were removed.
The Vatican’s unusually detailed statement announcing the laicization of retired Archbishop Francisco Jose Cox Huneeus and retired Bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez signaled a new degree of transparency after missteps by Francis that showed he had underestimated the gravity of the abuse scandal.
The statement said the two were defrocked for abusing minors with evidence so overwhelming a canonical trial was unnecessary.
Cox, 87 and suffering from dementia, is a member of the Schoenstatt religious order and had served as a bishop in Chillan, Chile, before becoming the No. 2 official at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family during John Paul II’s papacy.
He returned to Chile and became bishop in La Serena until he left in 1997 under unclear circumstances but took on administrative jobs in Rome and at the Latin American bishops’ conference in Colombia.
Ordenes Fernandez, 53, was made bishop of Iquique, in northern Chile, in 2006. He retired six years later allegedly for health reasons. But subsequently allegations of abuse were leveled against him.