Backlash against Chilean bishop threatens Francis’ reform agenda

Huffington Post

By Jason Berry

A thunderous protest engulfed the arrival of a controversial Chilean bishop to San Mateo cathedral on Saturday. To many, the appointment casts a shadow on Pope Francis’s reform agenda for the clergy abuse crisis.

The scene of screaming protestors pushing and shoving as Bishop Juan Barros, 58, enters the cathedral in the southern Chilean city of Osorno can be seen on a YouTube clip.

Pope Francis’s decision to send Barros, a bishop for 11 years who served as a military chaplain, to Osorno has ignited new media coverage on Rev. Fernando Karadima, 84, a notorious pedophile in Chile who was ousted by the Vatican four years ago, and who Barros used to share a close connection with.

Karadima was for many years the pastor of a parish in El Bosque, one of Santiago’s upscale neighborhoods near a wooded park. Karadima had a cult-like following among youths he guided into seminary and had deep ties with politicians, the military and Vatican officials.

Barros and three other Karadima protégés grew up to become bishops.

“Pope Francis has to withdraw this appointment or I and others may find it impossible to stay on the commission,” Peter Saunders, a clergy abuse survivor in London and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors told GroundTruth in a lengthy email interview.

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