He is in Chile investigating allegations against Bishop Barros

The special envoy sent by Pope Francis to investigate allegations that sex abuse was covered up has been hospitalised in Chile, a church official said Wednesday.

Catholic bishop’s conference spokesman Jaime Coiro said the problems affecting Archbishop Charles Scicluna aren’t extremely serious, “but neither are we dealing with a very simple ailment.”

He didn’t give details, but said Scicluna had been hospitalized for tests to determine what treatment is needed.

The Maltese archbishop on Tuesday began meeting victims and others opposed to the appointment of a bishop accused of covering up for the country’s most notorious paedophile priest.

Coiro said the Pope has asked that interviews with witnesses continue Wednesday through Friday as planned. They are to be handled by Jordi Bertomeu, a Spanish priest who has been serving as Scicluna’s translator and notary.

Scicluna came to Chile to investigate complaints about Bishop Juan Barros, who has been strongly defended until now by the Pope.

Barros has been accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring the abuse of young parishioners by Fr Fernando Karadima, who was removed from ministry and sentenced to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” in 2010.

Bishop Barros has denied knowing of the abuse.

Barros has been a bishop since 1995, but his 2015 appointment to the city of Osorno by Pope Francis caused outrage after the Karadima scandal had eroded the Catholic Church’s credibility in Chile. He has faced protests in Osorno by priests and lay Catholics who question how someone who says he never saw anything suspicious at the parish could be trusted to protect Osorno’s children today.