Pope accepts resignation of three bishops over Chile sexual abuse scandal
13 June, 2018, 16:38
Victims of the scandal hailed the removal of Barros, who has always denied allegations that he witnessed and covered up sexual abuse cases.
All of Chile's 34 Roman Catholic bishops resigned last month following a meeting in Rome during which Francis said the bishops were all collectively responsible for covering up clerical sexual abuse in their dioceses.
Barros has been at the center of Chile's growing scandal ever since Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno in 2015 over the objections of the local faithful, his own sex abuse prevention advisers and some of Chile's other bishops.
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The scandal and fury over the bishop cast a dark shadow over Francis' visit to Chile earlier this year: At least five churches were attacked in Santiago -some with firebombs - and a death threat was made against the pope.
Karadima's victims have long accused Barros of knowing about the abuse but saying and doing nothing about it.
The other two bishops whose resignations were accepted had submitted them prior to the pope's summit after having reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.
The decision of whether to accept the bishops' resignations is up to Pope Francis.
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"Today begins a new day for the Catholic Church in Chile and hopefully the world", Juan Carlos Cruz, the key witness in the abuse case, said on Twitter.
Francis has promised Chilean Catholics affected by sexual abuse that "never again" would the church ignore them or the cover-up of abuse in their country. "Three corrupt bishops are out", said Juan Carlos Cruz, one of Karadima's victims who was received by the pope in May along with two other men the priest had abused.
In addition to Barros, the communique said Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Cristian Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt, naming Fr. Ricardo Basilio Morales Galindo, provincial for the Order of Mercy in Chile as apostolic administrator.
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. At the time he said that allegations against the bishop amounted to "slander".
The letter - handed to the bishops at the start of their meetings with Francis - evokes "crimes" and "painful and shameful sexual abuse of minors, abuses of power and conscience by ministers of the Church".
The Pope continued to defend his appointment, telling reporters: "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak".
He produced a 2,300-page report which accused Chile's bishops of "grave negligence" in investigating allegations that children had been abused and said evidence of sex crimes had been destroyed.
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