Bishop Juan Barros declares a prosecutor for covering up abuses in Chile

Bishop Juan Barros declares a prosecutor for covering up abuses in Chile

The bishop emeritus of the Chilean city of Osorno, Juan Barros, said today as an accused in the prosecutor's office of the O'Higgins region for the alleged cover-up of sexual abuse committed by the military ex-captain, Pedro Quiroz.

Barros, one of the most questioned figures of the Chilean Catholic Church, gave a statement for two and a half hours before the chief prosecutor of O'Higgins, Sergio Moya.

This is the second time that Barros has declared in the case of the alleged abuses committed by Pedro Quiroz, because last September he was summoned by the South Metropolitan Prosecutor's Office.

In both cases, Barros, who was a military bishop between 2004 and 2015, had to give explanations for the supposed cover-up of the abuses of Quiroz, who was chaplain of the Air Force.

The Military Bishopric received in July 2018 a complaint of sexual abuse of a minor against Quiroz allegedly committed in 1997.

The priest had already been investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for two reports of sexual abuse of minors in the middle of the year 2000, without being able to obtain the necessary statements from the victims in order to determine responsibilities.

Prosecutor Sergio Moya explained after questioning Barros that the bishop emeritus denied the accusations of cover-up and did not provide new information, although he answered all the questions.

"He answered all our questions, the diligence was not free of rubbish in some questions that were more complex but developed in normal terms," ​​Moya told reporters.

The prosecutor stressed the importance of the status of Barros as a retired Army general, because that implies that he was a public official and the cover-up of a crime in that circumstance is a "criminal offense".

Moya, he explained, told Barros that he will possibly be summoned again to testify in other cases that the prosecution is investigating as a result of the seizure of documents in a registry that was made in the Military Bishopric last August.

Juan Barros offered a few statements at the exit of the prosecution of Rancagua in which he said he had the desire to "collaborate and answer the questions" of the prosecutor.

"We hope in God that all this will be solved and clarified and so be able to be calm and that everyone is better," said the bishop.

Pope Francisco accepted last June the resignation of Barros as Bishop of Osorno, a key figure in the origin of the crisis that the Chilean Church has been experiencing since the beginning of the year due to sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy for decades.

Several victims of abuses committed by the influential priest Fernando Karadima have claimed that Barros witnessed these events but decided to hide and silence them for years.

Pope Francis initially supported Barros and assured that there was no evidence against him, although he later recanted and in February he sent two special envoys for the first time to the South American country to gather information about the complaints against the bishop.

One of the envoys, the archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, prepared a report with the results of his first trip and, after reading it, the pontiff admitted that he had been misinformed and apologized to the victims.

According to sources of the prosecution, until November 5 there were a total of 139 investigations in progress against 190 people related to the Catholic Church of Chile and involving 245 victims, of which 102 were minors at the time they occurred the facts.


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