Pope accepts resignations of three Chilean bishops in wake of abuse scandal

Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sunday

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.

Bishop Juan Barros Madrid was accused of covering up the acts of a notorious abuser; Pope Francis enraged thousands of Catholics in Chile when he appointed Juan Barros as bishop of Osorno in 2015. "Is that clear?" the Pope had said at the time.

But days after returning to Rome, a chastened pope, citing new information, sent sexual abuse investigator Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to Chile to speak to victims, witnesses and other church members.

They questioned Barros' suitability to lead given he had been a top lieutenant of Chilean paedophile priest Fernando Karadima and had been accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse.

He also accepted the resignation of Bishop Gonzalo Duarte Garcia de Cortazar of Valparaiso, naming Bishop Pedro Mario Ossandon Buljevic, auxiliary bishop of Santiago, as apostolic administrator.

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Francis named temporary leaders for each of the dioceses.

The pope accepted Barros' resignation despite previous attempts to defend the bishop.

Pope Francis has, according to BBC, apologized to victims after more than 1,000 Chileans wrote to him, asking him to reconsider the installation of Juan Barros as bishop of the Chilean city of Osorno.

"A new day has begun in Chile's Catholic Church!" tweeted Juan Carlos Cruz, the abuse survivor who had denounced Barros for years and pressed the Vatican to take action.

The announcement came as Pope Francis was sending his Vatican team back to Chile to promote healing from the abuse crisis.

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A number of high-ranking Catholic clergy in Chile have been accused by victims of turning a blind eye to or hushing up sex offenses committed by the pedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.

The letter - handed to the bishops at the start of their meetings with Francis - evokes "crimes" and "painful and shameful sexual abuse of minors, abuses of power and conscience by ministers of the Church".

An global family rally the Catholic Church is hosting in Ireland will feature workshops on hot-button issues facing Catholic families, including protecting children from clergy sexual abuse, weathering divorce and ministering to lesbian and gay faithful. He met survivors at the Vatican and has been strong in his criticism of how the Chilean bishops handled the situation.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a Chilean bishop he robustly defended earlier this year despite claims of a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse, a move that later forced the pontiff into making a public apology.

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

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