Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s, BBC reports.
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. Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt, Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso, and Bishop Barros of Osorno will now be replaced.
As BBC notes, it remains unclear whether the resignation of the remaining 31 bishops will be accepted, but, in any case, it seems that Pope Francis has succumbed to the pressure, in spite of the fact that he had initially defended Bishop Juan Barros during his visit to Chile in January this year.
“The day I see proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?” the Pope had said at the time.
Apart from refusing to talk about sexual abuse Bishop Barros had committed, the Pope – according to his own advisers – received a letter from one of the victims in 2015. The eight-page letter, according to CBC, graphically detailed sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, as well as the subsequent coverup by Chilean church authorities.
“Holy Father, it’s bad enough that we suffered such tremendous pain and anguish from the sexual and psychological abuse, but the terrible mistreatment we received from our pastors is almost worse,” the victim wrote.
The victim’s letter was, in fact, delivered to the Pope, specifically and by hand, by a special delegation. The victim, Juan Carlos Cruz, described the abuse by Reverend Fernando Karadima; abuse Bishop Barros – who the Pope has repeatedly and publicly defended – and others witnessed, ignored, and covered up.
“Cardinal O’Malley (who delivered the letter) called me after the Pope’s visit here in Philadelphia and he told me, among other things, that he had given the letter to the Pope — in his hands,” Juan Carlos Cruz said.
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.
Pope Francis remains in the spotlight, following recent comments about climate change with pleads to oil executives that call for clean fuel. As Al Jazeera reported, the Pope called climate change a “challenge of epochal proportions.”
In 2013, Vice released a special report detailing the PR machinery which, so it seems, has managed to turn Pope Francis into a popular, widely-appreciated individual in spite of sexual abuse scandals. The PR guru behind the Pope charming the world is Greg Burke, a former Fox News correspondent. Burke has, Vice noted, managed to “open up and rejuvenate the Holy See.”