Pope to send expert to Chile to investigate allegations of abuse

Pope Francis is sending one of the Vatican’s most respected investigators - the Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna - to Chile “to listen to those who have expressed the desire to provide elements” about Bishop Juan Barros.

This after there was outrage during the Pope’s recent recent trip to Chile when he dismissed victims of sexual abuse and accused them of slander against Bishop Barros.

While Bishop Barros is not directly blamed for abusing children, some victims and witnesses claim that he covered up the sex crimes committed by his influential mentor, Fr Fernando Karadima. There are reports he personally witnessed some of the incidents and covered up the abuse the victims endured.

The move follows “the recent arrival of new information” on child abuse.

Bishop Barros was a protege of Fr Fernando Karadima, a politically powerful priest, who in 2011 was found by the Vatican to be guilty of sexually abusing minors.

After Karadima was sanctioned, Chile’s bishops tried to stem the fallout from the scandal by persuading  the Vatican to have Bishop Barros, and two other Karadima-trained bishops, resign and take a year-long sabbatical.

However, Pope Francis stepped in and put a stop to the plan, arguing that there wasn’t any solid proof against them.

He subsequently overruled the local bishops’ objections and controversially appointed Barros to head the diocese of Osorno in January 2015. Barros’ presence there has split the dioceses ever since, with locals rejecting him and protesting his appointment.

Sending Archbishop Scicluna to Chile is a remarkable and necessary turnaround for the Pope, who told reporters aboard his papal plane - when returning to the Vatican from Latin America - that he was sure Bishop Barros was innocent.

Archbishop Scicluna has a formidable reputation as an investigator. It was he who uncovered evidence of sexual abuse when he investigated the late founder of the Legionaries of Christ when Benedict XVI was the Pope.

Follow mnnews.today on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.