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The Vatican named the two men as Francisco José Cox Huneeus, archbishop emeritus of the city of La Serena, and Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández, archbishop emeritus of Iquique.

A Vatican statement in Spanish referred to a part of Canon (Church) law related to the crime of sexual abuse of minors and also said that the pope’s decision was definitive and not open to appeal.

Defrocking is the harshest punishment the Church can inflicted on a member of the clergy.

Last month Francis defrocked Father Fernando Karadima, an 88-year-old Chilean priest who sexually abused teenage boys over a period of many years and is at the center of a wider abuse scandal that is still under investigation.

This is a developing story

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