The Holy See announced this week that Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of three Chilean bishops, including that of Bishop Barros of Osorno. In an unprecedented move in May, the bishops of Chile indicated their willingness to resign as a sign of their contrition for the failures of Church leaders to prevent clerical sexual abuse and address the plight of abuse victims in Chile. The bishops admitted that they were culpable of “grave errors and omissions,” and expressed gratitude for Pope Francis’ “fatherly listening and fraternal correction.”
It is alleged that Bishop Barros, one of the three bishops whose resignations Pope Francis eventually accepted, had ties to Father Fernando Karadima, a notorious abuser who was sentenced by the Vatican to a life of prayer and penitence in 2011. The Vatican-appointed investigators into the abuse of minors in Chile returned to the country this week to facilitate the healing process for victims and to attempt to restore some degree of credibility in the midst of deep pain, anger and confusion.
Prayer and action to ensure the protection of minors and the transparency of church procedure will continue to be necessary in Chile and throughout the world, as the Church continues her saving mission in spite of the sins of some of her ministers. As then-Cardinal Ratzinger prayed on Good Friday in 2005, “The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them…Have mercy on your Church…Save and sanctify us all.”