Pope accepts Chilean bishops' resignation over abuse scandal

New claims await pope's sex abuse investigators in Chile

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.

In an unprecedented move, all of Chile's 34 bishops offered to resign en masse last month after attending a meeting with the pope over allegations of a cover-up of sexual abuse.

The June 11 communique from the Vatican said that Bishop Jorge Enrique Conchua Cayuqueo, a Franciscan and auxiliary bishop of Santiago, will now also serve as apostolic administrator for the Osorno diocese.

While Francis initially dismissed accusations against Barros, he performed a volte-face after Archbishop Scicluna, an experienced sex abuse investigator, and Mgr Bertomeu, investigated the crisis and sent him a 2,300-page report.

But with the other two resignations, 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.

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Gonzalo Duarte García De Cortázar, of the diocese of Valparaiso, and Msgr.

Victims accused Barros of having witnessed the abuse but doing nothing to stop it. Barros was named bishop of Osorno in 2015 by Pope Francis, who ignored objections from some clergy and churchgoers. Both are 75, the age when bishops normally retire.

By accepting Barros' resignation on the eve of their arrival, Francis is essentially giving Scicluna and Bertomeu a hand in helping to heal the divisions in a diocese where Barros was never fully accepted as bishop.

"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 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".

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He later apologised to victims, following criticism from Cardinal Sean O'Malley, a Vatican pointman on clerical sex abuse.

A Vatican official said that Monday's move represented a first step towards re-ordering the battered Roman Catholic Church in Chile and that the pope was still considering the positions of the other prelates.

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.

During his weeklong trip through Chile and Peru in January, Francis opened with a somber apology for sexual abuse by priests.

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