VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis accepted on Monday the resignation of three Chilean bishops including the controversial Juan Barros following a child sex abuse scandal in Chile which has come to haunt his papacy.
The entire Chilean delegation of bishops tendered its resignation to the pope last month after a series of meetings at the Vatican. The mass resignation of an entire delegation of bishops is almost unheard of, having last happened two centuries ago.
Several members of the Chilean church hierarchy are accused by victims of ignoring and covering up child abuse by Chilean paedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.
The scandal is the latest to rock the Roman Catholic Church, and Argentine-born Francis has said it must not happen again on his watch. 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.
Karadima was suspended for life by the Vatican over the allegations of child molestation. The announcement of Pope Francis’s decision to accept the resignation was made in a Vatican statement which named the other two bishops as Cristian Caro Cordero and Gonzalo Duarte GarcÃa de CortÃ¡zar.
Pope Francis has apologised to the victims and admitted he had made "grave mistakes" after reading a 2,300-page report on abuses in Chile. In a letter to Chileans released at the end of last month, the pontiff voiced "shame" that the Catholic church failed "to listen and react in time" to the allegations of sexual abuse by Chilean clergy.