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Pope accepts resignation of 3 Chilean bishops in scandal

Pope accepts resignation of 3 Chilean bishops in scandal

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 Vatican says the pope has accepted the resignations of the other two bishops for reasons of having reached the age limit of 75.

Besides Barros, the pope also agreed to the departures of Cristián Caro Cordero, bishop of Puerto Montt, and Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar, bishop of Valparaiso.

Taking over as in Barros' stead is Bishop Jorge Enrique Conchua Cayuqueo, O.F.M., auxiliary bishop of Santiago, who will serve as apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Osorno.

Those findings, which leaked to the media while the Chilean bishops were at the Vatican, have opened a Pandora's Box of new accusations that recently led Francis to become the first pope to refer to a "culture of abuse and cover-up" in the Catholic Church.

Those two investigators, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, are heading back to Chile on Tuesday to begin what the Vatican has said is a "healing" mission to Osorno.

Several members of the Chilean church hierarchy are accused by victims of ignoring and covering up child abuse by Chilean pedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.

Karadima's victims accused Juan Barros of knowing about the abuse but saying and doing nothing about it.

"This is huge not only for the Chilean church but for the entire world", Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean abuse survivor who helped lead a campaign pressuring the Vatican to take action, said in a phone interview, echoing public comments from other victims and church-reform advocates.

The highest-profile of those leaving his post was Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, 61, who has been in the vortex of the abuse saga.

The pope accepted Barros' resignation despite previous attempts to defend the bishop.

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

It is not yet known how many, if any, more of Chile's bishops will depart from office.

The Pope's move comes after he received two groups of victims of Fernando Karadima at the Vatican.

The scandals have deeply eroded many Chileans' faith in their church, as has happened in many countries in recent years because of cases of abuse by priests.

Since 2000, about 80 Catholic priests have been reported to authorities in Chile for alleged sexual abuse.

"He (the pope) said, "I was part of the problem, I caused this", Cruz added.

Pope Francis has, according to BBC, apologized to victims after more than 1,000 Chileans wrote to him, asking him to reconsider the installation of Juan Barros as bishop of the Chilean city of Osorno.

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