Four of Chile's bishops have resigned in connection with the child sex abuse scandal engulfing the country's Catholic church as the emergency Vatican session overseen by Pope Francis comes to a close.
Bishops Juan Barros, Tomislov Koljatic, Horacio Valenzuela and Monsignor Andres Arteaga renounced their episcopal duties under pressure over their roles in covering up Father Fernando Karadima's paedophilia, Clarin reports.
The bishops have so far maintained a stoic silence, but the Catholic church in Chile has confirmed they will comply with the pope's final decision.
In a letter to the Chilean monsignors, Pope Francis said he had some "changes and resolutions" planned for the Catholic church as a result of the emergency sessions, which began May 15.
"In the light of these painful events regarding abuses – of minors, of power and of conscience – we have realized the gravity of situation, as well as the tragic consequences that particularly victims have suffered," Pope Francis wrote, noting that seven additional bishops are likely to be removed as a means to re-establish confidence in the church.
"I want to thank you for accepting the invitation so that, together, we could make a frank discernment about the serious events that have damaged the ecclesial communion and weakened the work of the Church of Chile in recent years," the pontiff said.
Though Karadima has never been prosecuted in a criminal court, a Vatican investigation into allegations of his abuse of minors concluded that he was guilty and he was then expelled by the church.
His main accusers – Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo – testified against Barros, saying that he enabled Karadima's abuse. In 2015, Cruz penned a handwritten letter directly to the pope detailing Barros' complicity.
Barros said he offered his resignation on three separate occasions, but it was rejected each time for lack of evidence.
According to Santiago Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez, the resignations of at least 10 Chilean bishops are still pending.