Pope accepts resignation of 3 Chilean bishops in sex abuse scandal

Pope accepts resignation of 3 Chilean bishops in sex abuse scandal

Pope accepts resignation of 3 Chilean bishops in sex abuse scandal

Barros was accused by the victims of having witnessed the abuse but did nothing to stop it. Barros has however denied the allegations.

The report prompted Francis to summon all of Chile's Catholic hierarchy to an unprecedented summit last month, where they all offered their resignations.

Cruz, whom the pope hosted at his Vatican residence and met individually along with two other victims, said the pontiff was "contrite" and said he had been "part of the problem".

Those two investigators, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, are heading back to Chile on Tuesday to begin what the Vatican has said is a "healing" mission to Osorno.

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

In addition to Barros, the others who resigned are Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Bishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt.

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The pope's defense of Barros led to a widely publicized damage-control statement from Boston Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, a key Vatican adviser on clergy abuse, who acknowledged that Francis' comments about Barros were "a source of great pain" for victims.

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

By accepting Barros' resignation on the eve of their arrival, Francis is essentially giving Scicluna and Bertomeu a hand in helping to heal the divisions in a diocese where Barros was never fully accepted as bishop.

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

Barros, who is a central figure in the controversy, has been accused of covering up abuse committed by another priest in the 80s and 90s.

One of the victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, told Chilean radio that by accepting the resignations, Pope Francis had "sent a message to the world that this culture of abuse and cover-up won't be tolerated any longer".

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

The Pope accepted the resignation of the three bishops on Monday but it was not immediately clear if the move meant that he would not accept any of the other resignations.

They accused Bishop Barros of using his position in the Church to cover up the actions of his mentor, Fr Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty by the Vatican of sexually abusing children.

Pope Francis initially backed him, refusing to allow Barros to step down from his post and calling accusations against him "calumny" during a visit to Chile in January.

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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