Pope begins purge in Chile church over sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis attends a meeting with faithful of the diocese of Rome at Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome

Pope Francis attends a meeting with faithful of the diocese of Rome at Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome

Barros denied the allegations, but he joined Chilean 30 active bishops who have recently suggested to the Pope to resign.

The Vatican's top abuse investigator arrived in Chile on Tuesday, a day after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of three bishops from the scandal-wracked Chilean Church.

The sex abuse scandal is among the most challenging issues facing Francis, who has said he felt "pain and shame" about the church's failure for decades to confront cases of abuse by priests that have come from across the globe.

The Vatican's most experienced sexual abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna visited Chile earlier this year to look into the scandal.

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.

He also accepted the resignation of Bishop Gonzalo Duarte Garcia de Cortazar of Valparaiso, naming Bishop Pedro Mario Ossandon Buljevic, auxiliary bishop of Santiago, as apostolic administrator.

Pope Francis attends a meeting with faithful of the diocese of Rome at Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome.

The resignation of Bishop Barros comes after years of accusations and questions concerning his knowledge of abuse by his mentor and protests when Pope Francis appointed the then-head of the military ordinariate to head the Diocese of Osorno in 2015. All the Chilean bishops offered their resignations to the Pope in response to their handling of the crisis.

"The band of delinquent bishops ... begins to disintegrate today".

Last week it was announced they were being sent back to Chile in order to advance the process of "the process of reparation and healing of victims of abuse" in the Diocese of Osorno.

The Pope has promised Chilean Catholics scarred by a culture of clergy sexual abuse that "never again" would the Church ignore them or the cover-up of abuse in their country.

He also made a decision to host three Chilean sex abuse survivors at his home in the Vatican so he could apologise to them personally and hear their recommendations for change.

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".

He has since received two groups of Karadima's victims at the Vatican.

He produced a 2,300-page report which accused Chile's bishops of "grave negligence" in investigating allegations that children had been abused and said evidence of sex crimes had been destroyed. Francis said he had misjudged Juan Barros and the events in Chile because he hadn't been given "truthful and balanced information".

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