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November 15, 2018

All Chile's 34 bishops offer resignation to Pope over sex abuse scandals

Bishop Barros has repeatedly offered to resign. /FILE
Bishop Barros has repeatedly offered to resign. /FILE

All of Chile's 34 Roman Catholic bishops have offered Pope Francis their resignations in the wake of a child sex scandal and cover-up.

They asked forgiveness from victims and the Church for their "grave errors and omissions".

It was not immediately clear whether the Pope had accepted the resignations.

He had been criticised in Chile for his decision to ordain a bishop who is accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by a priest.

He said in January that he felt "pain and shame" over the scandal, which has rocked the Catholic Church in Chile.

It is the first time that all the top churchmen in a country have offered to leave their posts like this.

The upset centres on Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused of using his position in the Catholic Church to try to block an investigation into his mentor, Catholic priest Fernando Karadima.

Fr Karadima was an influential priest who was found guilty by the Vatican of sexually abusing young boys in the 1970s and 80s and sentenced to a lifetime of "penance and prayer".

He never faced criminal prosecution in Chile as too much time had passed, but the judge who heard victims' testimony in a year-long investigation described them as "truthful and reliable".

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Barros three years ago despite the cover-up allegations. He is not accused of carrying out abuse himself.

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