Monday, 18 June, 2018

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

Pope accepts resignation of three bishops over Chile sexual abuse scandal Pope Francis accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops
Jeannette Daniel | 12 June, 2018, 01:40

Of the three, only Barros is below the retirement age of 75.

In an unprecedented move, all of Chile's 34 bishops offered to resign en masse last month after attending a meeting with the pope over allegations of a cover-up of sexual abuse.

But by also accepting the resignations of the two other bishops, Francis is making clear that the troubles in Chile's church do not rest on Barros' shoulders alone, or on those of the more than 40 other priests and three other bishops trained by the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Apart from Bishop Barros of Osorno, Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso will now be replaced. Picture taken March 28, 2018.

Barros' removal, which had been expected, was met with praise by abuse survivors and Catholics in Osorno, who warned, though, that more resignations and actions must follow to heal the devastation wrought by the scandal. "A pope could come into office that doesn't care about these things, that's why concrete changes have to be made". "The pope has statements in his possession (from his investigators) that contain allegations of crimes we don't even know about".

Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a group of Osorno lay Catholics who fiercely opposed Barros, said Francis' acceptance of the bishop's resignation signalled "the end of the damage" that the pope himself had inflicted on the diocese by appointing Barros in the first place. "We can't rule out the possibility that he could take further steps", Coiro added.

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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 scandal revolves around Father Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing boys in Santiago in the 1970's and 1980's. Now 87 and living in a nursing home in Chile, he has always denied any wrongdoing.

Karadima's victims have long accused Barros of knowing about the abuse but saying and doing nothing about it. Barros has repeatedly denied playing any role. Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the survivors, explained the Pope not only said sorry but admitted that he, Francis, had personally been "part of the problem".

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

In 2013, Vice released a special report detailing the PR machinery which, so it seems, has managed to turn Pope Francis into a popular, widely-appreciated individual in spite 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.

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