Chile summons Roman Catholic cardinal in sex abuse case

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A cardinal has been summoned to appear in a Chilean court as the scandal over sex abuse by priests and others tied to the country’s Roman Catholic Church widens.

The archbishop’s office said in a statement Tuesday that Santiago Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati had been called to answer questions about his role in an alleged cover-up of abuse by Rev. Oscar Munoz, former chancellor of Santiago.

Munoz has admitted to abusing at least one minor. Prosecutors, however, uncovered reports of at least four more victims abused by Munoz that were documented by the Santiago archdiocese.

Chilean prosecutors have expanded their investigations into alleged abuse, saying Monday that they had looked into accusations of abuse or cover-up by 158 members of the church. The cases involved a total of 266 alleged victims.

The nationwide figures follow an avalanche of sex abuse and cover-up cases that have recently embattled the church in Chile and prompted Pope Francis earlier this year to publicly denounce a “culture of abuse and cover-up.”

Prosecutors said the vast majority of the sexual abuse crimes were committed by parish priests connected to an educational establishment.

There are at least five cases in which the heads of congregations or bishops in charge of a diocese are accused of cover-up or obstruction of an investigation.