Vatican defends choice of Chilean bishop linked to abuser priest


By Inés San Martín
Vatican correspondent March 31, 2015

ROME — Reacting to widespread criticism of the appointment of a bishop in Chile linked to the country’s most notorious abuser priest, the Vatican issued a terse statement on Tuesday insisting the move was “carefully examined” and there were no “objective reasons” to stop it.

“Prior to the recent appointment of His Excellency Msgr. Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid as bishop of Osorno, Chile, the Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment,” it said.

The statement was issued in the name of the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, a Passionist priest who serves as vice director of the Vatican’s Press Office. The Congregation for Bishops, currently led by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, is the Vatican department that recommends bishops’ appointments to the pope.

Tapped by Pope Francis for the position in Osorno on Jan. 10, Barros has become a deeply controversial figure in Chile because of his ties to the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a former mentor who was found guilty by the Vatican in 2011 of sexual abuse of minors and sentenced to life of “penance and prayer.”

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