Christian Today staff writer 09 March 2015
Pope Francis travelled to Chile last week to meet with Church leaders amid controversy over a recent appointment.
Monsignor Fernando Natalio Chomali Garib’s successor, Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, was appointed in January, but has faced a firestorm of criticism.
The bishop is accused of covering up years of paedophilia allegations against Rev Fernando Karadima, who was sanctioned by the Church in 2011 for child sexual abuse. A judge determined that the charges against Karadima were truthful, although the statute of limitations had expired.
The Osorno diocese has been run by Bishop Barros since 2013, when the prior bishop was transferred. Francis chose Barros to take over the position permanently two months ago.
In response to the appointment, 1,300 Catholic followers, 51 of the country’s 120 lawmakers, and as many as 35 priests protested, and urged the pontiff to reconsider. Barros has not responded to the controversy, and details of Francis’ meeting with Garib have not been released. Bishop Madrid was scheduled to be formally installed on March 21.
No bishop has been publicly sanctioned for covering up sexual abuses within the Catholic Church, although Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission has stated that bishop accountability is one of their priorities.
The pope recently sent an investigator to Kansas City, Missouri to examine charges that a local bishop covered up a priest’s sexual misconduct.
Bishop Robert Finn pled guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation in 2012 for failing to report that Father Shawn Ratigan had hundreds of pornographic photos of children on his computer. Finn admitted to knowing about the photos, but reassigned the priest instead of reporting him. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The Associated Press reported that the sex abuse advisory commission is currently drafting a sanction proposal for the pope to consider.