Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Pope begins purge in Chile church over sex abuse scandal

Argentina’s version of Romero declared martyr by Pope Francis Pope accepts resignation of three bishops over Chile sexual abuse scandal
Ellis Copeland | 14 June, 2018, 00:08

Kramer said in an interview that he told a senior Church official about the abuse several years later, but nothing was done. "The culture of abuse will never be tolerated again". "There is no way to rule out new measures".

Last month Francis promised "changes" to the Chilean church to "restore justice" in a short declaration to the bishops that was made public.

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.

Barros has been at the center of the scandal ever since Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno in 2015 over the objections of the local faithful, his own sex-abuse prevention advisers and some of Chile's other bishops.

The 87-year-old Karadima has been punished to a lifetime of "penance and prayer" for sexually abusing children.

But the Pontiff himself became mired in the scandal when, during a trip to Chile in January, he defended Barros who was accused of covering up Karadima's wrongdoing. "Our lives are in the hands of God, who knows our consciences and actions in this complex time".

Barros has denied the allegations that he covered up the actions of Fernando Karadima, once one of Chile's most popular priests who prepared boys for the priesthood. He had been named a bishop by John Paul II in 1995.

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More heads were expected to roll, given that the scandal has only grown in the weeks since all of Chile's 30-plus active bishops offered to quit over their collective guilt in failing to protect Chile's children from priests who raped, groped and molested them.

All of Chile's 34 Roman Catholic bishops resigned last month following a meeting in Rome during which Francis said the bishops were all collectively responsible for covering up clerical sexual abuse in their dioceses.

In April, Francis apologized for the "serious mistakes" in assessing the Chilean crisis. Scicluna and Bertomeu are due to travel to Osorno, in Chile's south. But profound distrust still remains, and new charges of abuse and cover-ups have been aired publicly. Gonzalo Duarte García De Cortázar, of the diocese of Valparaiso, and Msgr.

The third exiting priest, Bishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt, stands accused by some Catholics of having misinformed Francis on the allegations against Barros. Both are 75, the age when bishops normally retire. Chile has seen numbers of churchgoers fall, and a recent private poll showed only 45 percent of Chileans self-identifying as Catholic.

After receiving their 2,300-page report detailing the extent of clergy sexual abuse in Chile, the Pope apologised.

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". "Is it fair to ask for forgiveness?"

The decision of whether to accept the bishops' resignations is up to Pope Francis.

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