Vatican defends appointment of Chilean bishop accused of sex-abuse cover-up

Washington Post

By Abby Ohlheiser March 31

The Vatican defended the appointment of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid on Tuesday, after accusations that the bishop helped cover up sex abuse prompted criticism of the appointment by Pope Francis.

As the National Catholic Reporter notes, the brief, 19-word statement represents a rare comment from the Vatican on an appointment. “The Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature,” the statement from Holy See Press Office Vice Director Passionist Fr. Ciro Benedettini reads, “and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment.”

The criticism of Barros centers on long-standing allegations that he helped to cover up the sex abuse of his then-superior, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican in 2011 found guilty of sexually abusing minors. Karadima, 84, is now living cloistered in “penitence and prayer.”

Barros has denied the allegations, as the NCR reported, and has said he “never had knowledge or imagined the serious abuses that this priest [Karadima] committed with his victim.”

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