Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops' conference, reads Pope Francis' letter stating that the Pope may summon Chile's bishops to Rome for a meeting on the country's sexual abuse crisis. The April 11 news conference was in Punta De Tralca, Chile. CNS photo/Reuters

In wake of Francis apology, Chilean bishops to propose renewal plan

By  Catholic News Agency
  • April 14, 2018
SANTIAGO, Chile – A renewal plan for the Church in Chile will be submitted to Pope Francis by Chilean bishops when they gather next month at the Vatican, the president of the Chilean bishops' conference said.

Bishop Santiago Silva Retamales spoke April 13 with Radio Cooperativa, outlining the steps Chilean bishops are ready to take in order to heal the scandal caused by the appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to Osorno.

Bishop Barros has a long association with Fr. Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty of multiple sex abuses. Barros was eventually accused of participating in Karadima’s abusive conduct, and of helping to cover it up.

Though Barros has maintained his innocence, his 2015 appointment to the Diocese of Osorno aggrieved victims, and has been controversial since it was announced.

Despite victims expressing their resentment, the Vatican initially defended the appointment, and Pope Francis sparked controversy by calling accusations against Barros “calumny” during his most recent trip to Chile. However, the Pope sent Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna to Chile to investigate the situation, and the archbishop subsequently filed a report of 2,300 pages.

After reading the report, Francis sent a letter April 8 to the bishops of Chile, admitting he made “serious mistakes” in handling the crisis, and summoning the Chilean bishops to Rome.

The meeting between the Chilean bishops and the Pope has not been officially scheduled yet; it is expected to take place during the third week of May.

In his interview with Radio Cooperativa, Bishop Silva stressed that the “bishops of Chile will likely propose a plan for the renewal of the Chilean Church.”

He added that “the Church must take over the situation, with much responsibility, in order to boldly look for solution to get out of the crisis and go forward.”

Bishop Silva also said that "It's possible that the Pope will ask some [bishops] to leave their diocese ... there must be a drastic solution, strong and decisive, that is for certain."

Bishop Silva also remarked that Chilean bishops “have always properly said to the Holy Father what they ought to say,” thus rejecting the claim that they had not fully reported the situation to Rome. The Pope’s April 8 letter said that he had not always been able to access “truthful and balanced information” on the issue.

When the Pope’s letter was published, Bishop Silva issued a statement saying that the country’s bishops “had not done what was needed,” and asked “forgiveness of those who have been harmed.”

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