On March 23, 2019, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of another Chilean Bishop, in the heart of a crisis that touches the whole Chilean Church. The Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, 77, is considered guilty of covering up sexual abuses committed by three priests.
The Holy Father appointed an Apostolic Administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” — pending the appointment of a Titular Bishop — in the person of Monsignor Celestino Aos Braco, to date Bishop of Copiapo.
Cardinal Ezzati is accused in his diocese of covering up abuses. On March 22, Santiago’s Court of Appeals rejected a request for classification of the accusations brought against him.
This is the eighth Chilean Bishop whose resignation is accepted, after the meeting that took place in the Vatican in May of 2018: the 34 Bishops of the country submitted their offices to the Pope, after three days of reflection on sexual abuses and abuse of power committed in recent decades in the Chilean Church.
In June of 2018, the Pontiff accepted the renunciation of five Bishops: Monsignor Cristian Caro Cordero, Bishop of Puerto Montt; Monsignor Gonzalo Duarte Garcia De Cortazar, Bishop of Valparaiso; Monsignor Juan Barros Madrid, Bishop of Osorno; Monsignor Alejandro Goic Karmelic, Bishop of Rancagua and Monsignor Horacio del Carmen Valenzuela Abarcade, Bishop of Talca. Then, in September, he accepted the resignation of the Bishop of San Bartolome de Chillan, Monsignor Carlos Eduardo Pellegrin Barrera, and the Bishop of San Felipe, Monsignor Cristian Enrique Contreras Molina.
The grave Chilean crisis began when Monsignor Juan Barros Madrid, appointed Bishop of Osorno in 2015, was accused by lay people of his diocese of being aware of the acts of Fernando Karadima Farina — recognized as culpable of sexual and psychological abuses and reduced to the lay state last September. After having defended the Bishop initially, Pope Francis acknowledged the “grave errors in the evaluation and perception of the situation, notably due to a lack of truthful and balanced information.”