Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pope Francis accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops

Pope Francis accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops

Pope Francis accepted Monday, June 11, the resignation of 3 Chilean bishops including the controversial Juan Barros following a child sex abuse scandal in Chile which has come to haunt his papacy.

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.

Pope Francis has, according to BBC, apologized to victims after more than 1,000 Chileans wrote to him, asking him to reconsider the installation of Juan Barros as bishop of the Chilean city of Osorno.

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.

He is 75 years old - the age when a bishop is obliged to offer his resignation to the Pope - as is Bishop Duarte Garcia de Cortazar.

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

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis attends a meeting with faithful of the diocese of Rome at Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome, Italy May 14, 2018.

"I'm thrilled for all those who have fought to see this day". "The band of delinquent bishops ... begins to disintegrate today".

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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.

In 2011, the Vatican sentenced Karadima, a powerful preacher close to Chile's elite, to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his sex crimes. But the Scicluna-Bertomeu report exposed a far bigger scandal that has implicated several religious orders, including priests and brothers in the Franciscans, Legion of Christ, Marist Brothers and Salesian orders.

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.

It also exposed evidence that the Chilean hierarchy systematically covered up and minimized abuse cases, destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring church investigators to discredit abuse accusations and showing "grave negligence" in protecting children from pedophile priests.

Bishop Barros was accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s.

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.

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