Pope accepts resignation of bishop at heart Chilean abuse scandal
Pope Francis. DANIEL IBANEZ/CNA . Bishop Juam Barros. COURTESY OF CHILEAN BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
By Elise Harris
June 11, 2018
The Vatican announced Monday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid from his post in the diocese of Osorno, after being accused of covering-up for Chile’s most notorious abuser priest, Fernando Karadima.
The announcement came in a June 11 communique from the Vatican, along with the resignation of two other Chilean bishops.
Barros submitted his resignation to Pope Francis alongside every other active bishop in Chile at the close of a May 15-17 meeting between the pope and Chilean prelates, during which Francis chastised the bishops for systematic cover-up of abuse throughout the country.
Taking over as in Barros’ stead is Bishop Jorge Enrique Conchua Cayuqueo, O.F.M., auxiliary bishop of Santiago, who will serve as apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Osorno.
In addition to Barros, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt, naming Fr. Ricardo Basilio Morales Galindo, provicinial for the Order of Mercy in Chile as apostolic administrator.
He also accepted the resignation of Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso, naming Bishop Pedro Mario Ossandón Buljevic, auxiliary bishop of Chile, as apostolic administrator.
Francis had summoned the bishops to Rome following an in-depth investigation and report into the Chilean clerical abuse crisis carried out by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in February, resulting in a 2,300 page report on the scandal.
The decision of whether to accept the bishops’ resignations is up to Pope Francis. So far Barros, Caro and Duarte are the first bishops whose resignation Pope Francis has formally accepted.
The announcement of Barros’ resignation coincides with a new pastoral mission that Scicluna and Bertomeu will make another visit Chile June 12-19, this time traveling to the diocese of Osorno, which Barros has led since 2015. The investigators will spend June 14-17 in Osorno, and the remainder of their time will be spent in Santiago.
Pope Francis’ appointment of Barros to Osorno in 2015 was met with a wave of objections and calls for his resignation. Dozens of protesters, including non-Catholics, attempted to disrupt his March 21, 2015 installation Mass at the Osorno cathedral.
Opponents have been vocal about their opposition to Barros ever since, with some of the most outspoken being victims of Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing several minors during the 1980s and 1990s, and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.
Barros maintained his innocence, saying he didn’t know the abuse was happening. 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.
However, after Scicluna and Bertomeu’s investigation, the pope in April apologized for having made “serious mistakes” in judging the case due to “a lack of truthful and balanced information.”
Since then, he has met with two rounds of abuse survivors in addition to his meeting with Chilean bishops.