Sexual abuse case: Pope Francis accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops

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In his continuing efforts to show he has grasped the extent of the Catholic church's sexual abuse scandal, and intends to deal with those embroiled in it as perpetrators or colluders, Francis accepted the resignations on Monday of Juan Barros, as well as his fellow bishops Gonzalo Duarte and Cristián Caro.

The announcement came in a June 11 communique from the Vatican, along with the resignation of two other Chilean bishops.

His nomination quickly drew criticism from Chilean adherents, some of the country's other bishops and the pope's own sex abuse prevention advisers.

Pope Francis has said that he made "grave mistakes" by originally defending Bishop Barros.

Several members of the Church hierarchy, including Barros, are accused by victims of ignoring and covering up years of child abuse by Chilean pedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.


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.

Francis angered anti-abuse activists and others in Chile when, during a trip to the South American nation in January, he told an interviewer that the accusations against Barros lacked evidence and amounted to "calumnies". "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.

Barros has been at the center of Chile's growing scandal ever since Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno in 2015 even though he had been a lieutenant of Chile's most notorious predator priest and had been accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse.

Barros, who has always denied allegations he witnessed and covered up sexual abuse cases, asked for forgiveness for his "limitations" in handling the scandal in a statement.

Joining him is Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse who resigned from O'Malley's panel a year ago in frustration over the Vatican's resistance to listening to victims.


Last month, he joined the rest of Chile's bishops in offering to step down during an extraordinary Vatican summit. Karadima, like Barros, has denied any wrongdoing.

The Church said it would name a delegate next Monday to be stationed in Santiago and receive accusations of abuse, part of a new effort to help victims seek quick justice on still-open cases, some of which go back decades.

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 Catholic Church's upcoming big family rally in Ireland will feature workshops on hot-button issues facing Catholic families, including priestly sexual abuse, weathering divorce and ministering to lesbian and gay faithful.


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