Chilean prosecutors say Church abuse investigations triple

(Reuters) - The number of cases of abuse in Chile’s Roman Catholic Church under investigation by prosecutors has more than tripled to 119 in the past month, the national prosecuting authority said on Friday.

Among the 167 people under investigation are seven bishops and 96 priests, accused of unspecified abuses of 178 alleged victims, including 79 minors, the authority said.

A report from the authority sent to journalists on Friday did not specify the type of abuse but clergy have been accused by prosecutors of sexually abusing members of their congregations or covering-up abuse.

The prosecuting authority did not respond to request for comment.

In July civil prosecutors referred to 36 investigations involving an unspecified number of priests and bishops.

In May, Pope Francis summoned Chile’s 34 bishops to Rome following a report by the Vatican’s senior sex abuse investigator that accused them of “grave negligence” in investigating allegations that children had been abused and suggested evidence of sex crimes had been destroyed.

Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Toni Reinhold