Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation Of Bishop Juan Barros Over Chilean Abuse Scandal

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation Of Bishop Juan Barros Over Chilean Abuse Scandal

Barros has denied the allegations that he covered up the actions of Fernando Karadima, once one of Chile's most popular priests who prepared boys for the priesthood.

Following a summit with the Pope last month, all 34 of Chile's bishops offered to resign while Francis has written to Catholics in the country expressing his shame about the "culture of abuse and cover-up" that had taken hold in the Church.

The Pope named apostolic administrators to run each diocese in the meantime: Mercedarian Father Ricardo Basilio Morales Galindo, Chilean provincial, for the Archdiocese of Puerto Montt; Auxiliary Bishop Pedro Ossandon Buljevic of Santiago for the Diocese of Valparaiso; and Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Concha Cayuqueo of Santiago for the Diocese of Osorno.

Despite a strong Catholic tradition, Chile is witnessing a growing rift between the people and the Church, deepened by the string of sexual abuse scandals.

Karadima's victims accused Juan Barros of knowing about the abuse but saying and doing nothing about it.

The pope's defense of Barros led to a widely publicized damage-control statement from Boston Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, a key Vatican adviser on clergy abuse, who acknowledged that Francis' comments about Barros were "a source of great pain" for victims.

By accepting Barros' resignation, Francis essentially gave Scicluna and Bertomeu a hand in helping to heal the divisions in a diocese where Barros never was fully accepted as bishop.

"The band of delinquent bishops ... begins to disintegrate today".

The announcement came as Pope Francis was sending his Vatican team back to Chile to promote healing from the abuse crisis.

Several members of the Chilean church hierarchy are accused by victims of ignoring and covering up child abuse by Chilean pedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.

The highest-profile of those leaving his post was Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, 61, who has been in the vortex of the abuse saga.

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.

The Pope continued to defend his appointment, telling reporters: "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak".

A Vatican official said that Monday's move represented a first step towards re-ordering the battered Roman Catholic Church in Chile and that the pope was still considering the positions of the other prelates.

He produced a 2,300-page report, which accused Chile's bishops of "grave negligence" in investigating allegations that children had been abused and found that evidence of sex crimes had been destroyed.

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