Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome
Tuesday 31 March 2015
The Vatican has issued a rare statement of support for a bishop in Chile who has been accused by abuse victims of covering up for a notorious paedophile priest, in a case that is sure to infuriate critics who say Pope Francis is straying from his commitment to ending the church’s legacy of abuse.
Amid a growing controversy over Bishop Juan Barros, the Holy See confirmed on Tuesday that the congregation for bishops had vetted Barros and found no “objective reason” to stop his appointment to the southern Chilean diocese of Osorno.
Barros has been accused by victims of turning a blind eye to abuse that was committed against them by Barros’s former mentor, Reverend Fernando Karadima, a priest who the Vatican found guilty of molestation in 2011.
Karadima is now living a cloistered life of “penitence and prayer” in a convent in Chile.
In some cases, Karadima’s victims have alleged that Barros not only helped to cover up the crimes decades ago, but that he had observed the abuse.
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