Pope Francis accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops

Elias Hubbard
June 11, 2018

Barros was a protégé of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty and dismissed for abusing dozens of minors over a decades-long period beginning in the 1980s.

Francis also accepted the resignations of Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Bishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt.

The decision by the Pope to accept the resignation of three of the 34 was announced in a statement issued by the Vatican on Monday.

"I told him that Barros was watching us when we were abused, I think that's clear to him now", Juan Carlos Cruz said.

The entire Chilean delegation of bishops tendered its resignation to the Pope last month after a series of meetings at the Vatican. At the time he said that allegations against the bishop amounted to "slander".

Francis named temporary leaders for each of the dioceses.

The appointment of Barros, who had previously been a bishop leading the Military Ordinariate, was met with public outcry with the new bishop having to battle through crowds of protesters during his installation ceremony.

According to the report, the church administrators were appointed to run all three diocese.

Then, during a visit to the country in January, Francis upset victims by describing claims of a cover-up accusing Bishop Barros as "calumny", sparking a controversy that called into question his handling of the sexual abuse scandal.

About 80 Roman Catholic priests have been reported to authorities in Chile for alleged sexual abuse over the past 18 years.

Francis has apologised to the victims and admitted he had made "grave mistakes" after reading a 2,300-page report on abuses in Chile.

He also chose to host three Chilean sex abuse survivors at his home in the Vatican so he could apologise to them personally and hear their recommendations for change.

Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a group of Osorno lay Catholics who fiercely opposed Barros, said Francis' acceptance of the bishop's resignation signalled "the end of the damage" that the pope himself had inflicted on the diocese by appointing Barros in the first place.

More heads were expected to roll, given that the scandal has only grown in the weeks since all of Chile's 30-plus active bishops offered to quit over their collective guilt in failing to protect Chile's children from priests who raped, groped and molested them.

More than 1,000 people wrote to Pope Francis asking him to review the appointment and hundreds showed up at the bishop's installation ceremony in protest.

It is not yet known how many, if any, more of Chile's bishops will depart from office.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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