Abuse protesters wreak havoc at bishop’s installation Mass

The installation Mass of a Chilean bishop accused of complicity in paedophilia cases descended into chaos as protesters tried to climb onto the altar.

An estimated 4000 protesters tried to block Bishop Juan Barros Madrid from entering the cathedral in Osorno on March 21.

Inside the cathedral, there were clashes between the bishop’s opponents, carrying black balloons, and supporters, carrying white ones.

While Bishop Barros was celebrating the Mass, many kept screaming “Paedophile!” and “Get out!”.

The celebration had to be cut short, skipping the homily, Communion, and other parts of the liturgy.

Bishop Barros was escorted out of a side-door under police guard.

Three people were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Weeks of protests, candlelight vigils and letters to Pope Francis were not enough to persuade him to rescind his decision in January to appoint Bishop Barros.

Bishop Barros was a close associate of the Fr Fernando Karadima, a Santiago priest whom the Vatican found guilty of sexual abuse in 2011.

The abuse took place in the 1980s and 1990s.

Fr Karadima was ordered to retire to a “life of prayer and penitence”.

Three of Fr Karadima’s victims have accused four Chilean prelates, including Bishop Barros, of covering up for Fr Karadima and of being present while he abused them.

One victim accused Bishop Barros of threatening seminarians if they spoke out.

Another accusation charges that Bishop Barros, while serving as secretary to a cardinal, destroyed letters addressed to him reporting the abuses.

Bishop Barros has denied any knowledge of the abuses.

One victim, Juan Carlos Cruz, said the Pope’s decision to appoint Bishop Barros was a slap in the face.

To date, the Vatican has made no statement in response to the criticism of his appointment.

Chilean Archbishop Fernando Chomalí discussed the Barros appointment and the subsequent reaction with the Pope in Rome on March 6.

The archbishop said the Pope was very well informed about the situation and had told him he found no reason to reverse his decision.


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