Pope starts purge in church over sex-abuse scandal


Associated Press

VATICAN CITY

Pope Francis began purging Chile’s Catholic hierarchy on Monday over an avalanche of sex abuse and cover-up cases, starting with accepting the resignations of the bishop at the center of the scandal and two others.

More heads were expected to roll, given that the scandal has only grown in the weeks since all of Chile’s 30-plus active bishops offered to quit over their collective guilt in failing to protect Chile’s children from priests who raped, groped and molested them.

A Vatican statement said Francis had accepted the resignations of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Bishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt. He named a temporary leader for each diocese.

Barros, 61, has been at the center of Chile’s growing scandal ever since Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno in 2015 over the objections of the local faithful, his own sex abuse prevention advisers and some of Chile’s other bishops.

Barros’ removal, which had been expected, was praised by abuse survivors and Catholics in Osorno. Some said more housecleaning now is needed to heal the devastation wrought by the scandal.

“A new day has begun in Chile’s Catholic Church!” tweeted Juan Carlos Cruz, the abuse survivor who had denounced Barros for years and pressed the Vatican to take action.

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