Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops, including the controversial bishop accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse. Source: Crux.
The resignations are the first to be accepted since all the country’s bishops offered to step down last month.
The Pontiff appointed Bishop Juan Barros to the Diocese of Osorno in 2015, causing uproar among locals and abuse victims who accused him of covering up the crimes of the country’s most infamous pedophile priest, Father Fernando Karadima.
The Vatican announced Francis’s decision on Monday, and said Bishop Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo, an auxiliary bishop from the capital Santiago, would serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese.
Two other bishops also had their resignations accepted: Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso.
Bishop Barros was only 61; the other two bishops were 75, the mandatory retirement age for bishops in the Church.
The removals come ahead of a pastoral visit this week by two papal investigators to Osorno to “advance the process of reparation and healing.”
Archbishop Charles Scicluna, a former official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, a current official of the congregation, arrived in Chile yesterday.
Since appointing Bishop Barros back in January 2015, the pontiff openly defended him on more than one occasion, including during his trip to Chile in January this year, with remarks that sparked worldwide controversy.
After that episode, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to investigate the allegations of abuse in the Chilean church.
Archbishop Scicluna visited Chile in February and prepared a report outlining "a series of absolutely reprehensible acts that have occurred in the Chilean church in relation to ... unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse," Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos of Santiago said on May 18, when the 33 Chilean bishops offered their resignation en masse to the Pope.
In April, Francis apologised for the "serious mistakes" in assessing the Chilean crisis and received at the Vatican three Chilean whistleblowers in the sexual abuse case.
Pope accepts resignations of three Chilean bishops tied to sex abuse scandal (Australian Financial Review)