Pope defrocks 2 former Chilean bishops for abusing minors

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In the middle of a long-lasting scandal regarding cases of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has defrocked two more high-profile bishops, taking away their roles as priests.

The Vatican named the first man as Francisco Jose Cox Huneeus, 84, who was archbishop emeritus of the city of La Serena - capital of the northern Coquimbo Region.

Both were stripped of their priesthood "as a outcome of overt acts of abuse against minors".

The defrockings come one day after the Pope accepted the resignation of a U.S. cardinal who was accused of covering up a sex abuse scandal in Pennsylvania.

Defrocking, officially called being "reduced to the lay state", is the harshest punishment the Church can inflict on a member of the clergy and such action has rarely been taken against bishops.

The Vatican made the announcement Saturday after Chilean President Sebastian Piñera's visit to the Pope, in which they discussed the matter.

Recently, Cox was once again accused of committing sexual abuse in Germany.

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Fernandez then retired and has been living in Peru.

Now 85 and reportedly in poor health, the prelate has lived at the institute since 2002, Ms San Martin said.

Legal proceedings were initiated in Germany against Cox over the alleged abuse of a child in care in 2004, Deutsche Welle radio reported.

Pope Francis has already apologized repeatedly to Chileans over the scandal, admitting the church failed "to listen and react" to the allegations, but vowed to "restore justice".

Last month Francis defrocked Father Fernando Karadima, an 88-year-old Chilean priest who was accused of sexually abusing teenage boys over many years.

In May, the Argentine pontiff accepted the resignation of five Chilean bishops amid accusations of abuse and related coverups.

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