Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Pope Francis accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops

Pope Francis accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops

They questioned Barros' suitability to lead given he had been a top lieutenant of Chile's most notorious predator priest and had been accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse.

In 2011, Fr Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

"Holy Father, it's bad enough that we suffered such tremendous pain and anguish from the sexual and psychological abuse, but the awful mistreatment we received from our pastors is nearly worse", the victim wrote.

He also accepted the resignation of Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso, naming Bishop Pedro Mario Ossandón Buljevic, auxiliary bishop of Chile, as apostolic administrator.

It was not clear if the move meant that the remaining 31 resignations would not be accepted.

Archbishop Caro Cordero is from Santiago.

In 2015, Francis appointed Barros as the head of the southern diocese of Osorno despite accusations he had covered up for Karadima. However, the pope, who hails from Argentina, initially defended the prelate in January, saying the allegations were "slander".

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.

The pontiff has promised Catholics in Chile that the church would "never again" ignore them or participate in covering up cases of abuse in their country.

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.

Last week it was announced they were being sent back to Chile in order to advance the process of "the process of reparation and healing of victims of abuse" in the Diocese of Osorno.

"Cardinal O'Malley (who delivered the letter) called me after the Pope's visit here in Philadelphia and he told me, among other things, that he had given the letter to the Pope - in his hands", Juan Carlos Cruz said.

The scandals have deeply eroded many Chileans' faith in their church, as has happened in many countries in recent years because of cases of abuse by priests.

"A new day has begun in Chile's Catholic Church!" tweeted Juan Carlos Cruz, the abuse survivor who denounced Barros for years and pressed for the Vatican to take action.

The pope said sorry for unwittingly "wounding" Karadima's victims who say Barros, one of the charismatic Karadima's proteges', shielded the abuser from justice.

Barros denied the allegations, but he joined Chilean 30 active bishops who have recently suggested to the Pope to resign. All the Chilean bishops offered their resignations to the Pope in response to their handling of the crisis.

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

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