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Pope Francis accepts resignations of three Chilean bishops

14 June 2018, 12:08 | Taylor George

Pope accepts resignation of 3 Chilean bishops in sex abuse scandal Monday June 11 2018 Pope Francis

PopeFrancis

The Vatican's top abuse investigator arrived in Chile on Tuesday, a day after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of three bishops from the scandal-wracked Chilean Church.

All of Chile's 34 Roman Catholic bishops had offered their resignations, and the Pope's decision to accept the resignation of three of the 34 was announced today.

Besides 61-year-old Barros, the pope also agreed to the departures of Cristian Caro Cordero, bishop of Puerto Montt, and Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortazar, bishop of Valparaiso, who had both reached the normal retirement age of 75.

The acceptance is part of the Church's ongoing narrative in how it has handled its global clergy sex abuse crisis that in this case brought a popular pontiff face-to-face with involved bishops, protesters, victims as well as destroyed documents on his home continent.

Those findings, which leaked to the media while the Chilean bishops were at the Vatican, have opened a Pandora's Box of new accusations that recently led Francis to become the first pope to refer to a "culture of abuse and cover-up" in the Catholic Church.

Barros denied the charge, but he joined 30 of Chile's other active bishops in offering their resignations to Francis at an extraordinary Vatican summit last month.

Opponents have been vocal about their opposition to Barros ever since, with some of the most outspoken being victims of Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing several minors during the 1980s and 1990s, and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.

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Barros had always been accused of witnessing and covering up the sexual abuse of minors by a priest who had once mentored him.

During a trip to Chile in January, the pope staunchly defended Barros, saying he believed he was innocent, and that accusations against him were "slander" until proven otherwise. While the Pope has said removing bishops is a necessary step, he has also stressed an intent to tackle the root causes of the abuse problem which he believes goes beyond making personnel changes. "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 two investigators will meet Wednesday with Canon law experts from Chilean dioceses who will provide "technical and legal assistance" in order to "provide adequate responses to each case of child sexual abuse committed by clerics or religious", Scicluna told reporters.

Barros, the most controversial of those who resigned, was appointed to his position in 2015 by Pope Francis.

Joining him is Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse who resigned from O'Malley's panel past year in frustration over the Vatican's resistance to listening to victims. His comments stunned many Catholics in Chile and elsewhere.

Since 2000, about 80 Catholic priests have been reported to authorities in Chile for alleged sexual abuse.

Scicluna is due to return to Chile this week to gather more information.



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