Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two Chilean bishops Thursday, bringing the total number of resignations of Chilean bishops he has accepted to five.
The Vatican announced that Francis accepted the resignations of Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua and Bishop Horacio del Carmen Valenzuela Abarca of Talca, according to The Associated Press. The pontiff’s acceptance of the resignations comes in the wake of Chile’s entire bishops conference, totaling 31 bishops, offering their resignations in shame over the massive sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Chilean Catholic Church. (RELATED: Chile’s Bishops Resign Over Sex Abuse Scandal, Victims Rejoice)
Goic, the now former bishop of Rancagua, played a part in that scandal. He headed the Chilean church’s child protection commission, but 14 priests in his diocese have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors.
Francis has also accepted the resignation of Juan Barros, formerly the bishop of Osornos, who many Chileans accused of being complicit with the abuses that Rev. Fernando Karadima committed against children. Francis defended Barros, who offered his resignation twice, saying that he had seen no evidence of the alleged complicity, and even went so far as to accuse those who demanded his removal of slander. Francis changed his position, however, after meeting with Chilean survivors of abuse and after receiving a 2,300-page report on the Vatican investigation into Chile’s abuse scandal.
Francis apologized both to Barros’ accusers and to other sex abuse survivors, saying “I was part of the problem. I caused this, and I apologize to you,” according to Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse who met with Francis.
Francis chastised Chile’s bishops conference in an emergency summit in response to the report on the Vatican’s investigation, after which the conference offered their resignations. He lambasted them for “grave negligence” in their handling of sexual abuse cases and of hiding or destroying evidence and cajoling attorneys to downplay allegations.
The pontiff later promised that Chilean Catholics would never again suffer under an abuse of cover-ups and abuse.
“The ‘never again’ to a culture of abuse, and the system of cover-up that allowed it to perpetuate, calls on all of us to work toward a culture of carefulness in our relationships,” Francis wrote in a letter to the church.
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