Pope Francis accepts resignation of 3 Chilean bishops, beginning purge in Chile's scandal-plagued church

Pope Franics accepts the resignation of three Chilean bishops
(Image credit: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of three Catholic bishops in Chile, including Juan Barros, whom the pope had elevated to bishop in 2015 over the objections of the local dioceses and the Vatican's sex abuse prevention advisers. Francis had defended Barros on a trip to Chile in January, later reading testimony detailing allegations that Barros had ignored evidence of sexual abuse; Francis then acknowledged his "grave errors in judgment" regarding Barros. Last month the pope summoned Chile's 31 active bishops to the Vatican, where all of them offered their resignation. The other two bishops whose resignations the pope accepted Monday were Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Puerto Montt Bishop Cristian Caro.

Barros had been a top lieutenant to Rev. Fernando Karadima, an abuser priest who the Vatican convicted of sex crimes in 2011. But Vatican sexual misconduct investigators Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu uncovered a much wider sex abuse scandal in Chile's Catholic church, including coverups by church hierarchy and abuse among religious orders. The findings by Bertomeu and Scicluna, which leaked while the Chilean bishops were in Rome, led Pope Francis to speak publicly of a "future of abuse and coverup" in the Catholic Church, a first for a pope, The Associated Press reports. Scicluna and Bertomeu are headed back to Chile on Tuesday to promote "healing" in Osorno, and the pope is expected to make more changes in Chile.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.