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Chilean Bishop Resigns as Sexual Abuse Allegations Investigated by Vatican

The pope accepted the resignation of a Chilean bishop who is under investigation  by the Vatican for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor. The resignation of Bishop Marco  Antonio Ordenes Fernandez of Iquique, Chile, marks one of the few times that  the Vatican has acknowledged publicly that it was investigating a bishop for sex  abuse allegations. Advocates for clerical sex abuse victims have long complained  that the Vatican has looked the other way when bishops have been accused of  abuse or of covering it up.

The Vatican said Tuesday that  the pope has accepted Ordenes' resignation under the code of canon law that says  a bishop must resign if he is sick or because some other "grave" reason makes  him unsuitable for his job.The 47-year-old Ordenes suffers  from a liver ailment and has been seeking medical treatment. But the Vatican  Embassy in Santiago confirmed Oct. 2 that it had been investigating Ordenes  since April, and was offering psychological and other care to  "those affected."The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico  Lombardi, said that the link between the resignation and the investigation  "can be considered obvious."Ordenes is accused of abusing a  15-year-old altar boy in the northern city of Iquique. The former bishop admits  he had "an imprudent act" with his accuser but says that he met him in 1999 when  he was 17 and that they had a relationship when he was no  longer underage."My conscience is clear before  God and that's what matters," Ordenes told Chilean newspaper La Tercera in a  recent interview.His accuser, Rodrigo Pino, 30,  says the abuse began when he was 15. At first, he said it was forced, but then  they became lovers."We began a friendship because I  showed him my interest in becoming a priest. I became very involved with him and  then the abuses began," Pino told Chilean ADN radio. "He would tell me that he  was like a father to me and I was like his son, his lover, his brother and  friend. ... At first the abuse was forced because I was a boy who fell  in love."The Vatican embassy is taking  charge of the investigation because Ordenes is a bishop. Usually, a priest  accused of sexually abusing children is investigated by his bishop, who then  sends the case to the Vatican for review if he finds a semblance of truth to  the accusations.Lombardi said the fact that the  case was now before the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,  which handles cases of clerics accused of the sexual abuse of minors, indicates  that the investigation concerns the allegation that Ordenes abused Pino when he  was underage.A handful of U.S. bishops have  resigned after facing sex abuse allegations. More recently, the then-Bishop of  Bruges, Belgium, Roger  Vangheluwe, quit in 2010 after admitting he had molested his nephew for  years starting when he a young boy. The Vatican later sanctioned him. Earlier  this year, the Vatican laicized a Canadian bishop who was convicted of child  porn possession. 

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