SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) — The Catholic Church in Chile announced that Father Gerardo Joannon, a prominent Chilean priest, will be sent to a community in Madrid “to initiate a process of psychological and spiritual accompaniment” after his alleged involvement in a scandal of stolen newborn babies.
Father Alex Vigueras, provincial superior of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Chile, said Aug. 12 that an internal investigation conducted by the Archdiocese of Santiago concluded there is credible evidence that Father Joannon was involved in irregular adoptions during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
The case is already being investigated by Chilean Judge Mario Carroza, who is working to establish the extent of the network that stole newborn babies from single mothers to give them to married couples during the 1970s and 1980s.
The victims were unmarried women, generally from well-off families, who were pressured by their relatives to give up their child for adoption to avoid the social stigma of unmarried motherhood. If they refused to do so, they were led to believe that their baby had died during childbirth.
Father Vigueras said Father Joannon “actively participated in two cases of illegal adoptions” and celebrated Masses for one of these babies, despite the fact that he “always knew that both children didn’t die at birth.”
The priest even had an “inappropriate relationship” with one of the mothers, he said, and added that “he should assume his responsibilities and ask for forgiveness.” Father Vigueras asked for forgiveness, too, on behalf of his congregation.
The provincial said he ordered Father Joannon to move to Spain in October “to initiate a process of psychological and spiritual accompaniment. During this time, he will not have pastoral responsibilities.”
Marcela Labrana, head of Chile’s child protection agency within the Ministry of Justice, asked the Chilean church to keep Father Joannon in Chile to help “clarify the truth in this case.”
Father Vigueras said Father Joannon has stated on two occasions that he would return to Chile if needed by justice officials.
Earlier in the summer, Father Joannon told a local magazine that he did what he did after being contacted by families affected by unwanted pregnancies and because he wanted to avoid possible abortions.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: