Vatican won't charge Chilean priest over illegal adoptions

SANTIAGO, Chile – The Vatican said it will not bring charges against a Chilean priest after investigating his role in illegal adoptions of newborns who were declared stillborn but given to new families in the 1980s.

The case was uncovered in April by journalists, who revealed two babies had been put up for adoption after their young parents were told the newborns had died.

In addition to finding that Gerardo Joannon participated in the adoptions, the Church investigation determined that he had an "inappropriate" relationship with one of the mothers.

But, the Vatican body that oversees religious orders, "after examining the documentation, has concluded that the faults committed do not amount to a crime under canon law," a church statement said.

Posted Sunday, January 25, on the website of the Catholic Church's Episcopal Conference of Chile, the statement said that any further action would fall to Church authorities in Chile.

Joannon was originally ordered to ask for forgiveness from those involved and was to be transferred to the Madrid area.

However, a Chilean judge forbade Joannon from leaving the country during a judicial investigation.

At least two lawsuits have been filed by parents whose children were put up for adoption.

More than a dozen cases of suspected illegal adoptions under the regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet, in power 1973 to 1990, have recently been uncovered. –