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SANTIAGO, Chile - The Vatican is investigating a Chilean bishop for alleged sexual abuse of minors, making him the most senior Catholic clergyman to be drawn into a scandal that has implicated 20 priests so far, the church said Tuesday.
The church investigation of the bishop of the city of Iquique, Marco Antonio Ordenes, 47, was launched in April, but details in the case have not been disclosed.
"Because the accused person is a bishop, the procedure is being carried out by the Holy See," a spokesman for the Chilean conference of bishops, Jaime Coiro, said at a news conference.
"From the start of this case, the Vatican embassy has offered psychological support and comfort for the people affected and it has been in contact with Monsignor Ordenes, who is on medical leave," Coiro said.
The newspaper La Tercera said the investigation is being led by the Vatican's representative in Chile, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, and that Ordenes was in Peru recovering from a congenital liver problem.
The church provided no details on the alleged victims or the circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse.
Last week, the church's conference of bishops issued a public apology over the cases of sexual abuse, which have involved about 20 priests in recent years, five of whom have been tried and convicted of sexual offenses.