Accused of covering up an abusive priest, Osorno prelate has brought controversy, but maintains his innocence.
During his last day in Chile, Pope Francis spoke out about a bishop who has been accused of covering over the sexual abuse of a former priest, saying that there is not any proof that the bishop did anything wrong.
“The day they bring me some proof about Bishop [Juan] Barros, then I will speak. There is not a single bit of proof against him; all of it is calumny,” the pope said as he was arriving to his final Mass in Chile, celebrated in Iquique.
The bishop has been participating in the public events of the pope, which has caused some to protest publicly.
He is accused of covering the abuse committed by Fernando Karadima, who at the time of his crimes was a beloved and charismatic priest.
Though Barros has been a bishop for a number of years, in 2015, the pope moved him to the Diocese of Osorno.
The Chilean press has pushed Barros for a comment on the protests against him. For his part, the prelate has continued to state that he was not aware of the abuse.
On Thursday morning, Bishop Barros said that the pope has expressed his support: “The Holy Father was very kind at the end of Mass, speaking to me some words of encouragement. What he said specifically, I’ll guard in my heart; they were very beautiful words of support and kindness.”