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Apr 24, 2010 at 06:56pm IST

80-year-old Chilean priest accused of sexual

Santiago, Chile: An 80-year-old Chilean priest who trained numerous clergy members, five of whom went on to become bishops, has been accused of sexually abusing minors.

The church has launched a probe against Fernando Karadima Farina, erstwhile parish priest at the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus de El Bosque church in Santiago, archbishop Francisco Javier Errazuriz said on Friday.

The investigation was launched after a 44-year-old doctor, who was earlier an altar boy at the parish, accused Farina of sexual abuse during his stay at the church.

The Chilean Catholic Church earlier this week for the first time asked forgiveness for alleged sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, members of the parish recalled that Farina presided over the doctor's wedding and baptised his children and said the accusation stemmed from a falling-out between the two after the doctor's marriage ended in divorce, according to a media report.

Farina trained "five clergy members who currently are bishops and who are very grateful for what he did for them", Errazuriz said.

Four people, who say they were also sexually abused by the priest, have also filed criminal charges in Santiago against Farina, their attorney said.

The victims had earlier been reluctant to file criminal charges "because they are Catholics who trust the ecclesiastical institutions", attorney Juan Pablo Hermosilla said.

The Chilean Catholic Church earlier this week for the first time asked forgiveness for alleged sexual abuse involving priests and asked victims to report these "very grave sins" to church officials so that they do not reoccur. Five priests have been convicted and five are currently being prosecuted, while 10 others are under investigation.

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