New bishop in Chile under fire for alleged abuser cover-up

Several Chilean priests have demanded the resignation of a newly-appointed bishop whom they accuse of covering up for a cleric who abused altar servers.

A group of priests and deacons in Osorno have complained to the apostolic nuncio for Chile about Bishop Juan Barros Madrid.

The priests and deacons allege the bishop covered up for Fr Fernando Karadima, who sexually abused altar servers.

Bishop Barros was appointed to his latest post by Pope Francis in January.

In 2000, he was appointed Bishop of Iquique and four years later he became the military ordinary for Chile.

Initially a priest of Santiago archdiocese, Bishop Barros was made auxiliary bishop in Valparaiso in 1995.

Victims have said Fr Karadima began abusing them at his residence in Santiago about 20 years ago, when they were teenagers.

The Vatican ordered Fr Karadima to a life of “penitence and prayer” in 2011.

A Chilean judge later dismissed a criminal case because the statute of limitations had expired, but she determined the abuse allegations were truthful.

About 50 Chilean lawmakers signed a petition last week asking the Vatican for the resignation of Bishop Barros, who was known to be close to Fr Karadima.

More than 1000 residents of Osorno have signed a similar petition protesting his nomination.

Early last week, the Pope’s point man for clerical sexual abuse, American Cardinal Sean O’Malley, spoke on the need for accountability.

Cardinal O’Malley said the failure of the Church to punish bishops who covered up for abusers had seriously harmed its credibility.

He said canon lawyers and theologians were reviewing proposals to present to the Pope on holding bishops and religious superiors accountable.

The proposals were developed by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Cardinal O’Malley chairs.

The commission includes two survivors of sexual abuse.

The cardinal said the sex abuse scandal had “seriously diminished” the Church’s credibility in its core spheres of defending human rights, the unborn and immigrants.


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