Pope accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops over sexual abuse

Clay Curtis
June 14, 2018

After an in-depth Vatican-led investigation into clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of 61-year-old Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Chile, and two other Chilean bishops on June 11.

In a letter to Chileans released at the end of last month, the pontiff voiced "shame" that the Catholic Church failed "to listen and react in time" to the allegations of sexual abuse by Chilean clergy.

The entire Chilean delegation of bishops tendered its resignation to the pope last month after a series of meetings at the Vatican.

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.

Victims accused Barros of knowing about what they said was Karadima's abusive behavior but doing nothing to stop it or report it to church authorities. Bishop Juan Barros Madrid was accused of covering up the acts of a notorious abuser; Pope Francis enraged thousands of Catholics in Chile when he appointed Juan Barros as bishop of Osorno in 2015. "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.

"The resignation of these bishops should not dilute their criminal responsibility", he said.

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Several people who claim to have been abused by members of the Jesuit and Marist religious communities in Chile said they have requested time with Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, and Father Jordi Bertomeu, a Spanish official from the Vatican, during their week-long "reparation and reconciliation" mission that started on Tuesday in Santiago.

Jaime Coiro, general secretary of the Chilean Catholic Church, noted that the pope has said the case will require short-, medium- and long-term measures, which could include accepting the resignations of more bishops. Now 87 and living in a nursing home in Chile, he has always denied any wrongdoing.

"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.

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.

The announcement came as Pope Francis was sending his Vatican team back to Chile to promote healing from the abuse crisis. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church accepted Barros's resignation as well as those of two others in Chile.

He also made a decision 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.

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