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Pope Appoints New Auxiliary Bishops in Chile's Scandal-Rocked Church

Pope Francis meets Chilean bishops at the Vatican, May 15, 2018. (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis has appointed two auxiliary bishops to Santiago, Chile. They are the first bishops who have been appointed to the South American nation since the entire bishops conference offered its resignation due to what the pontiff described as a "culture of cover up" when it comes to clerical abuse.

The newly appointed auxiliary bishops are Carlos Irarrazaval Errazuriz and Alberto Lorenzelli Rossi, both of whom served as priests in the Chilean capital. The latter is an Italian-Argentine who arrived in Chile five years ago and is not part of the long-standing divisions existing among the clergy in Santiago.

The appointments come one year after an emergency summit took place at the Vatican to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church in Chile.

In May of last year, in the wake of the scandal and in an unprecedented move by an entire national bishops' conference, all 34 bishops in Chile offered to resign.

The bishops made the announcement after attending the crisis meeting with Pope Francis about the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse in their country. They had signed a document en masse in which they put their fate in the hands of the pope.

Chilean bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzales said at the same time, the bishops also apologized for the pain caused to the victims of abuse, to the pope, to the people of God, and to Chile for their serious mistakes and omissions.

In a strongly worded document on the scandal, Francis said the entire Chilean Church hierarchy was collectively responsible for grave defects' in handling cases and the resulting loss of credibility that the Catholic Church had suffered in the country.

This past March, the pope accepted the resignation of 77-year-old Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, archbishop of Santiago, who had been accused of covering up for crimes of abusive priests. The pope appointed Bishop Celestino Aós Braco of Copiapó as apostolic administrator of Santiago.