Pope Francis on Monday accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops following sexual abuse scandals.
A statement released by the Vatican said the Pope had accepted the resignations of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Bishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt, according to AP.
The scandal revolves around priest Fernando Karadima who molested several boys in Chile’s capital of Santiago in the 1970s and 1980s. Victims accused Bishop Juan Barros of having witnessed the abuse but doing nothing to stop it. Barros has denied the allegations.
In January, the Pope sent Vatican expert Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to Chile to verify allegations that Barros had been complicit in sexual abuse crimes committed by a priest following which Scicluna submitted a report on the alleged abuse to the Pope.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu are heading back to the country on Tuesday to begin what the Vatican has said is a healing mission in Osorno, reported AP.
In May, all of Chile’s 34 bishops offered to resign over allegations of a cover-up of sexual abuse. It is not clear if Monday’s move meant the Pope would accept any of the other resignations, reported Reuters.
The Pope had sparked a controversy and protests when, after meeting victims of the alleged abuse, he claimed that Barros was innocent and accused complainants of committing slander. The pontiff later apologised for his comments. He also publicly sought forgiveness for the rape and molestation of children by priests in Chile.