Updated | Archbishop Charles Scicluna undergoes gallbladder surgery in Chile

Archbishop Charles Scicluna was hospitalised in Santiago, while on a Vatican-mandated investigation into child abuse • Medical bulletin says Scicluna is in good condition and is expected to recover in hospital over the next two or three days

Archbishop Charles Scicluna
Archbishop Charles Scicluna

Updated at 6.22pm with medical bulletin

Archbishop Charles Scicluna had his gallbladder removed through keyhole surgery on Wednesday morning in Chile after having been admitted in hospital with pain in the abdomen.

According to a medical bulletin issued by the San Carlos de Apoquindo hospital on Wednesday evening, Scicluna was admitted at the clinic on Tuesday at 9pm with abdominal pain that he started feeling the previous days.

He was diagnosed with acute cholecystitis, an infection of the gallbladder caused by gallstones.

The hospital said that Scicluna was administered antibiotic and analgesic treatment for the inflammation before laparoscopic surgery to remove the gallbladder could take place. The surgery was performed on Wednesday morning, Chile time.

"Mgr Scicluna is now in good condition, recovering well from laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive procedure with a very good prognosis," the bulletin said, adding that the expected recovery time at the hospital was between 48 and 72 hours.

The Maltese archbishop this week met the victims of Chilean priest Fr Fernando Karadima, who was convicted in 2011 for abusing a number of boys. Archbishop Scicluna is in Santiago looking into accusations that Bishop Juan Barros covered up crimes against minors.

Catholic bishop’s conference spokesman Jaime Coiro said the problems affecting Archbishop Charles Scicluna aren’t extremely serious, “but neither are we dealing with a very simple ailment.”

He started hearing victims’ testimony on Tuesday, including that of Hamilton. He is expected to leave Chile on Friday.

READ MORE • In Chile as Vatican’s investigator, Malta archbishop Charles Scicluna hears abuse victims’ testimony

Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy) is employed to remove the gallbladder and gallstones. Most people return to their normal activities in seven to 10 days. Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is the best method of treating gallstones that cause symptoms. Laparoscopic surgery is used most commonly when no factors are present that may complicate the surgery.

Pope Francis was criticized during his visit last month for defending Bishop Juan Barros, whom he appointed in 2015 despite accusations that he had covered up sexual abuse of minors. Several men have accused Barros of protecting Karadima, his former mentor. Barros, of the diocese of Osorno, has said he was unaware of any wrongdoing by Karadima.

A Chilean man who was sexually abused by the priest said he was hopeful his testimony to Scicluna, appointed as special investigator by Pope Francis, would lead to better protection for children. “I hope that in the Chile of the future, there is security for children, there is no statute of limitations on sexual abuse, that Sename (Chile’s child protection service) cares for children,” James Hamilton told reporters on Tuesday. “It does not matter to me what the Catholic Church determines.”

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