Vatican declares Chilean bishop innocent of sexual abuse charges

Santiago, Chile — After almost a year of investigation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith concluded that Bishop Cristian Contreras Molina of San Felipe was innocent of the child abuse accusations made against him.

Through a statement, the diocese of San Felipe said that "the Vatican has concluded that those accusations were not true and has established the absence of incriminatory evidence."

The district attorney's office also closed its investigation regarding the case, the statement said, adding that the bishop had cooperated with both investigations.

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"I always said that this accusation was a slander. Now I'm at peace. I have no doubts that the people of God know who their pastors are. I have received support from my family, the community and the priests," the bishop said during a press conference Friday.

Paraphrasing Pope Francis' words, he added that "there is no place in the church for priests who abuse minors. This means that I have always followed the church's protocols that indicate that this (investigative) procedure must be followed under any accusation."

On a worldwide level, Pope Francis said May 26 that "at the moment there are three bishops under investigation: One has already been found guilty, and we are now considering the penalty to be imposed."

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