VATICAN CITY/SANTIAGO – Pope Francis on Thursday removed another two Chilean bishops over the clerical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the South American country.
Francis accepted the resignation of Rancagua Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic, 78, and Talca Bishop Horacio del Carmen Valenzuela Abarca, 64. They will be replaced, respectively, by Msgr Luis Fernando Ramos Perez and Msgr Galo Fernandez Villaseca, according to a statement from the Vatican press office.
The move followed the removal on June 11 of three Chilean bishops including Osorno Bishop Juan Barros, at the centre of the scandal for covering up the sex abuse committed by his mentor Father Fernando Karadima, who was suspended for life from priestly activity in 2011.
Bishop Goic offered his resignation three years ago due to his age, but the Pope did not accept it. His departure comes amid a sexual abuse scandal in his own diocese, where 14 priests have been suspended.
Those crimes were allegedly committed by a network called “The Family” over the course of at least a decade, before a member of the parish denounced them last week in a television report. A criminal investigation is underway.
Carmen Valenzuela, meanwhile, was a follower of Karadima, who was suspended for life by the Vatican. He was named by Karadima’s victims as a figure who ignored or covered up the abuse.
Several victims welcomed the news of their resignations.
“Slowly but surely… two less wicked and corrupt bishops”, Juan Carlos Cruz, now a communications executive, wrote on Twitter.
— Juan Carlos Cruz Ch. (@jccruzchellew) June 28, 2018
The pope himself became mired in the scandal when, during a trip to Chile in January, he defended Barros. However the pope later apologised to Karadima’s victims and said he had made “grave mistakes”.