Santiago, Chile - The archbishop of Santiago says the Roman Catholic Church is investigating "a few" cases of pedophilia involving priests in Chile, an issue church leaders long sought to play down.
"There is something to these pedophilia abuses - just a few, thank God," Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz said in an interview on state television Sunday evening.
Errazuriz did not say how many cases or whether they had been reported to police. Press representatives of the Santiago diocese told the Associated Press on Monday that they didn't know how many pedophilia cases were under investigation.
The country's most notorious known case involved the archbishop of La Serena, a regional capital in northern Chile.
Francisco Jose Cox resigned without explanation in 1997 and took up administrative work in Santiago, Rome and later Bogota. In 2002, Errazuriz revealed that Cox had resigned voluntarily because of "improper conduct" related to his "somewhat exuberant affection," especially with children.
Last month, Chilean courts sentenced a Spanish teacher and lay member of the San Viator order, Jose Angel Arregui, to 26 months in prison for possessing child pornography showing Spanish students and infants.
He arrived to Chile in 2008 and was arrested last August. Cristian Gonzalez, a deputy commissioner with Chile's child pornography task force, told the AP that Chilean authorities don't know why the priest left Spain and it was not within their authority to find out.
In 2003, Chilean priest Jose Andres Aguirre was sentenced to 12 years in prison for nine cases of abuse and one rape of a minor taking place between 1998 and 2002. Chile's cardinal at the time of the cases had sent Aguirre to Honduras, and he later lived in Spain and Uruguay.