Monday, 18 June, 2018

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of 3 Chilean Bishops

Pope Francis accepts resignation of three Chilean bishops Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno has been accused of covering up child abuse
Sammy Stanley | 14 June, 2018, 00:07

A controversial figure from Chile's child sex abuse scandal and two other bishops have resigned, the Vatican says.

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.

One of the most recent accusers to step forward, Helmut Kramer, a 48-year-old engineer from Santiago, told Reuters on Monday that at the age of 13 he was forced to strip and was fondled by Father Leonel Ibacache, a Jesuit, in meetings held under the pretext of preparing him for baptism and enrolment in the Jesuit school in the northern city of Antofagasta in 1983.

Church leaders also announced that Pope Francis would meet representatives of survivors of clerical abuse and residential abuse during the course of his two days in Ireland. Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno was accused of covering up the acts of a notorious abuser, and the pope enraged thousands of Catholics in Chile when he appointed Barros as bishop in 2015.

Francis called the Church leaders of Chile in Rome, realizing that he had committed "serious errors" in relation to the Barossa, which he strongly defended during his visit to Chile in January.

"Holy Father, it's bad enough that we suffered such tremendous pain and anguish from the sexual and psychological abuse, but the awful mistreatment we received from our pastors is nearly worse", the victim wrote.

Barros has denied the allegations.

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.

"I'm thrilled for all those who have fought to see this day", he said.

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Francis apologized to the victims and admitted he had made "grave mistakes" after reading a 2,300-page report on abuses in Chile.

He first dispatched Scicluna and Bertomeu to investigate accusations of abuse in February, when they conducted 64 interviews.

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.

The biggest new scandal involved revelations of a gay priest sex ring in the Rancagua diocese of the bishop who headed the Chilean church's sex abuse prevention commission.

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

The Pope continued to defend his appointment, telling reporters: "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak".

The pontiff has promised Catholics in Chile that the church would "never again" ignore them or participate in covering up cases of abuse in their country.

About 80 Roman Catholic priests have been reported to authorities in Chile for alleged sexual abuse over the past 18 years.

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