Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Juan Barros over sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the bishop at the centre of Chile's child sex abuse scandal.

Bishop Juan Barros was one of 34 Chilean bishops who offered to resign last month in the wake of a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church there. He has been at the heart of the controversy since he was appointed by the pope in 2015 despite allegations that he had covered up sexual abuse of minors by his mentor, Father Fernando Karadima.

ReutersThe resignation of Bishop Juan Barros has been accepted by Pope Francis.

In an acutely embarrassing episode for the Vatican, Francis defended him personally when he visited Chile in January, dismissing allegations against him as 'calumny'. He later said he had made 'serious errors' in handling the situation because he had not been given 'truthful and balanced information'.

The resignation of two other bishops, Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt, was also accepted. It is not known whether the pope intends to accept the resignation of the rest.

Pressure on the bishops grew after the pope's return from Chile, when he sent sexual abuse investigator Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to Chile to speak to victims, witnesses and other church members. Sciluna handed Francis a 2,300-age dossier on the abuses which revealed a pattern of abuse and cover-ups dating back years.

Two groups of Karadima's victims have since been received at the Vatican.