The Vatican has said that it is confident the correct decision has been made in appointing Juan Barros Bishop of Osorno, in Chile.
A statement on the controversial Chilean bishop was released by the Vatican earlier today. “The Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment,” it said.
The statement comes after Bishop Barros was barracked by hundreds of black-clad protesters during his installation at Osorno’s Cathedral of St Matthew last week.
He has been accused of protecting Fr Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty of child abuse in 2011, and a number of victims have also alleged that he even witnessed some of the crimes as they happened, charges that the bishop has denied.
Television footage showed clashes between the bishop’s supporters, who carried white balloons, and demonstrators, carrying black ones. There were 3,000 protesters in total.
Members of Francis’s child protection commission expressed concerns that Bishop Barros had been appointed “despite allegations that he covered up for the South American nation’s most notorious paedophile”.
Commission member and abuse survivor Marie Collins said she could not understand how Pope Francis could have appointed Bishop Barros given the concerns about his connection to Fr Karadima.
“It goes completely against what [Francis] has said in the past about those who protect abusers. The voice of the survivors is being ignored,” she said.
Victims of Fr Karadima claimed the bishop knew of the abuse but failed to act. Bishop Barros, though, emphatically denied any knowledge of what had been going on. After the Vatican found Fr Karadima guilty in 2011, Bishop Barros was one of four bishops who issued a statement supporting the decision. They declared: “Like so many, we learned about this situation and its diverse and multiple effects with deep astonishment and pain.”