Just days after U.S. Ambassador Callista Gingrich returned to the Vatican Library a 1493 letter from Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, a letter that had been in the Vatican library, was stolen and sold at auction in the U.S. to an unsuspecting buyer, a one-sentence announcement came today from the Bishops of the U.K. that a relic of Pope Clement I, found in a trash bin in London, will be returned to Westminster cathedral. There will be a press conference and photo opportunity tomorrow in London.

A CNA story from May 6 when the relic was found gives us a bit of history:

London, England, May 6, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- You know the old saying – one person’s trash is another person’s 2,000 year-old sacred bone fragment of an early pope. An environmental waste company in London had a surprise discovery last week when they uncovered a reliquary in the garbage containing a bone of St. Clement, a Church Father and the fourth Pope.

The company, which posted about the discovery on their website April 25, said they could not pinpoint the exact location that the relic had come from, but they do know that it was collected in the garbage somewhere in central London.

“You can imagine our amazement when we realised our clearance teams had found bone belonging to a Pope – it’s not something you expect to see, even in our line of work,” James Rubin, owner of Enviro Waste, said in a statement on the company’s website.

“We often come across some weird and wonderful things on clearances, but we were definitely not expecting to find a bone fragment of an apostle,” he added. (Image from Catholic Ireland, Basilica of St. ClementI)

It is believed that St. Clement converted from Judaism to Catholicism, and may have shared in some of the missionary journeys of St. Peter or St. Paul, and assisted them in running the Church at the local level.
According to one account, he died in exile during the reign of the Emperor Trajan, who purportedly banished Clement to Crimea and had him killed in retaliation for evangelizing the local people, around the year 100. He is among the saints mentioned in the Roman Canon.

In 868, the Greek missionary St. Cyril claimed to have recovered St. Clement’s bones.

So far, no one has reached out to claim the relic, Rubin told the Huffington Post. He added that he is seeking the help of a U.K. laboratory to have the relic carbon dated to test its authenticity. The bone fragment is encased in a wax-sealed case and includes an inscription that it is “from the bones of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr.”

On their website, Enviro Waste has set up an electronic suggestion box, asking the public where the final resting place of the relic should be.

“We know this is an important piece of history and are keen to find the most appropriate place for its final resting place, which is why we’re asking for help from members of the public,” Rubin said.

So far, suggestions have included the British Museum or the Church of St. Clement in Rome.


I get so many emails asking for travel advice, the majority about the Vatican, of course, that I thought I’d help those of you planning a trip by posting links to the offices that will help you get a papal blessing, tickets to a papal general audience or Mass, reserve a visit to the scavi and reserve tickets to various Vatican Museum events:









Fridays have turned out to be the most special day of the workweek for me as the day starts in St. Peter’s basilica with Mass for EWTN employees with Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, As I told him last Friday, feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus when Mass was celebrated at the altar of the Sacred Heart, “the best part of my day has just ended.”

This morning was no exception.

Because I have a Vatican ID as a retired employee, I have the privilege of entering Vatican City through the Perugino Gate, one of a number of official entrances to the Vatican but less known than the Petrine Gate that leads, for example, to the Paul VI Hall, or the Santa Anna Gate on the east side of Vatican City State. At that gate, used by the majority of employees of Vatican City State and the Roman Curia who have offices inside the mini-state, you are greeted first by Swiss Guards and then by gendarmes who ask to see your ID or some official document that will gain you entrance.

At the Perugino Gate, no Swiss Guards but there is a gendarme post. When the police see the proper credentials, they greet and salute the visitor or employee and, for me at least, what comes next is both wonderful and magical at the same time.

As I walk down hill from the guard post, this is pretty much the first view I get of St. Peter’s Basilica!

The Santa Marta residence is immediately on my right, and it often awes me to think I am literally yards away from where the Pope lives and works!

I usually use the Perugino entrance because I am going to Mass in the basilica, I have business in the Governorato, the administration that runs Vatican City State or I’ll do some shopping at the Vatican’s department store.

I always enter the basilica through what is known as the Prayer Door, It is also known as the diplomat’s door, as this is the entrance that ambassadors use when attending a papal or other celebration in the basilica.

Msgr. Anthony always says Mass for us at the altar of Pope St. John XXIIII. That had not been possible in recent weeks as the body of St. John had, with exceptional permission, been taken for veneration to his native diocese of Bergamo for 18 days.

This morning, however, I noted that there were temporary, rather high barriers created by thick velvet drapes and I became excited because I knew what that meant! It meant that St. John XXIII was about to return to his final resting place!

I went directly to the sacristy this morning and met Msgr. Anthony with several of his friends as they were walking out. Mass today would be at another altar I love, the St. Joseph altar under which, in a large sarcophagus, are the remains of the Apostles Simon and Jude!

Even though there are many pews for this altar, Msgr. asked that chairs be placed right in front of the communion railing and that is where we sat – as you can see…..

We all accompanied Msgr. Anthony back to the sacristy where, after a brief visit, we went our separate ways. Both of us were curious about the St. John altar so we took a long way around the barriers and went right to the altar, surrounded by workmen waiting at an empty niche below the altar for the return of our saintly Pope, I asked if I could take a photo and they said they did not have authority to say yes. I should have taken one and asked for pardon, not permission, as the expression goes!

Here is what one normally sees at the St. John XXIII altar and how things will be once again as you read this column.


The workers told us where the body was and that became our next destination – the sacristy of Cardinal Comastri, the archpriest of the Vatican basilica. We both know the cardinal. He was not available – no surprise on such an important day! – but we had a lovely chat with his secretary and then chanced to meet Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, delegate or secretary of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office responsible for physical care of the papal basilica.

Msgr. Anthony asked Bishop Lanzani if we could see the body before it was returned to its resting place but he said that was not possible. He said they were still putting things in place, such as the seal that will cover the glass casket and the ventilation system that preserves the body.

However, he was carrying relics of St. John and asked if we would like to touch them and kiss them!!

If I had been less struck by the uniqueness of this request, I’d have thought of taking a picture!

Msgr. Anthony had to deliver an envelope to the Santa Marta, just meters away from where we were standing at the sacristy, but we had to wait outside the building until the Holy Father left the Santa Marta! We had seen the papal car at the front door of the residence, guarded by gendarmes and the Swiss Guards, and did not know when Francis would leave. We decided to wait – it was about 20 minutes before the Pope actually got in and was driven away. I tried but it was a bit too fast for a still photo.

What we saw awaiting the papal car to pass  —IMG_0532



(I have no idea why these photos are so much larger – will have to look into that!)

Mass, relics of a saintly Pope returning home, a glimpse of the Holy Father, all in such a brief period of time.   Part of A Day in the Life ….!


…or should I say propane?!

If the Italians had a version of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” my tale would be an entry. Only those who have live in Italy or currently live here can possibly understand how amazing my story is.

Italy is a land of such enormous bureaucracy that entire volumes have been written about it – and new ones appear all the time. Remember my recent story about being the only person in the post office one day and yet I was told I had to wait until my number was called!!

When there is a problem or some bureaucratic issue facing them, Italians will do one of two things: shrug their shoulders and say ”pazienza” and try to solve the problem, no matter how long that might take, or they’ll sit in a local café and discuss the matter and complain, as if mere conversation over coffee will solve the issue.

If you have been following Joan’s Rome, you know I’ve been without gas in my apartment – yesterday was Day 16.

I decided to, as the expression goes, take the bull by the horns and find out exactly what was being done to remedy this critical situation by writing to APSA, the Vatican administration that rents apartments, handles technical issues, etc. and to Italgas.

I went online, got the names of the CEO and the president of Italgas, got an email address and proceeded to write to both men, also addressing a copy of my letter to the press office of Italgas.

I laid out the situation, gave the building address, specifically which part of the building had no gas and laid out the issues that have been facing us for 16 days. No anger, just the facts, the disappointment that nothing had been done in 16 days, etc..

I did mention that it had been suggested we find a lawyer, saying I did not want to take that route.

I also mentioned I was a journalist.

Four hours later – an absolute miracle for life in Italy! – I got an answer from the press office on behalf of the CEO and president!

The basics are this: the previous ‘colonna montante’ – a pillar that runs through the building from the street gas supply to each apartment – has degraded to such an extent that it was partially the cause of the gas leak over 2 weeks ago. Not only is this seriously outdated and dangerous, an entire new column, running from the gas pipes below the sidewalk to the roof of our building will have to be mounted outside the building, not within the walls. This pipe will run alongside the glass enclosed, very small balconies right off of our kitchens – this is where the gas meters are. Workers will have to break through the walls of each balcony, connect the new colonna montante to each of our gas readers and, so they say, that will be that and we can cook once again, etc.

Sounds VERY long to me!

Italgas has been in touch with the Vatican all along but last night’s letter gave me more information than anyone else had. I printed a copy of the email and gave it to Carlo, our doorman, who was delighted to know what would be happening!

In any case, the man from the Italgas press office gave me his phone number and asked me to be in touch and update him on the work – which he’d be following from Milan.

The other part of A Day in the Life….!



My special guest this weekend in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” is Fr. Alan Fogarty, president of the Jesuit run-Gregorian University Foundation. Fr. Alan will tell us all about his work, the Foundation’s three offices in the U.S., Canada and Rome and the fascinating history behind the Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Orientale Institute. So stay tuned to learn about the Greg, the university’s nickname, its long history, its saints and blessed and Popes – great stories and interesting statistics!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: For VI archives:


For those of you who are passionate about all things Italian, but principally the restaurants and the gelato, here’s something for you to savor over the weekend – two links from TheLocal to quench that thirst. TheLocal is an online newspaper in English and if you also crave news about Rome and Italy, this is the place to go.


Happy Flag Day to my fellow Americans! Wear a button on a lapel, have one on your car or hang one from a flagpole but be sure to honor the Stars and Stripes today.

And what a perfect day for our U.S. ambassador to the Holy See to return a piece of history – history for both the United States and Spain – to the rightful owner, the Vatican Apostolic Library! Read on!


U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, in a ceremony this morning in the Vatican Library, returned a recovered copy of a letter written by Christopher Columbus to its rightful home in the Vatican Library. She presented the letter to the Vatican’s Archivist and Librarian, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P. and the Library’s Prefect, Bishop Cesare Pasini, in the presence of representatives of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for their role in recovering the letter.

The Columbus Letter, as it is known, is an account of the explorer’s discovery of America written in 1493 to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The text was translated into Latin and several copies were distributed around Europe. The Vatican Library received one of these copies in 1921 as part of the “De Rossi Collection” of rare books and manuscripts.

Archbishop Bruguès said, “this is an historic day for the library because a document returns home, a document that tells a story that belongs to both America and Spain.”

He also praised Mary Parsons, the widow of the late Robert Parsons who bought the document for $875,000 in what he assumed was a legitimate sale. Parsons had no knowledge that the document had been stolen from the Vatican.

Once the truth was known. his widow decided to give the document back to the Vatican, saying she knows that is what her late husband would have wanted, notwithstanding the huge financial loss.

It was revealed today that Mary Parsons wrote a letter to Pope Francis and it was brought days ago to the Vatican from the United States.

Ambassador Gingrich said, “A precious piece of history has returned home. I am very honored to return it to its rightful owner.”

Her full speech is here:

The archbishop said, “we do not know exactly when the substitution took place. However the forgery was reproduced with both visual and tactile aspects. We may never know who forged this.”

No one knows exactly when or how the letter was removed from the Vatican Library. It could have been purloined during a re-binding of the volume with Columbus letters as the Vatican does not do its own binding, but rather outsources it.

It seems something similar could not happen today because, about a dozen years ago, books in the library – books, documents, parchments, etc, – had microchips installed in them. Researchers who have gained permission to study in the library have their own ID card with a microchip inside and the library personnel knows at every moment where they are and what document they are looking at.

Click here to see photos of the encounter in the Vatican Library:

The following information sheet is compliments of the U.S Embassy to the Holy See.

The embassy also sent photos of both the authentic and forged letters but they were in pdf format and I have no program in my computer that will convert them to jpg to post here. I have spent the better part of an hour trying to convert them. Hopefully I can eventually get those to you. I am trying to download a program that will convert the photos: if that works, I’ll get the pictures to you.

Columbus Letter Fact Sheet

In September 2011, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received information from an expert of rare books and manuscripts pertaining to alleged forgeries of several 15th-century original, manually printed Latin editions of what are commonly known as the “Columbus Letter (1493)”.

The expert reported that in November 2010 in the Vatican Library’s De Rossi Collection he observed a “Plannck II – Columbus Letter,” printed in Rome in 1493 by Stephan Plannck. After examining the “Plannck II”, the expert believed it to not be original. He based his opinion on his observation that the chain lines of the pages did not match other authentic versions that the he had previously examined. The non-authentic “Columbus Letter” now in the volume was not part the original stitching; it was separately and loosely stitched into the binding. It was also clear from the dimensions of the white bulking leaves that the original and authentic De Rossi copy of the Columbus Letter was short, with a leaf height of approximately 18.5 cm.

In December 2013, the late American collector David Parsons sent his “Plannck II – Columbus Letter,” which he had purchased in 2004, to the same expert for authentication. The expert found it to be authentic and noted that its leaf height was the same as that of the suspected Vatican De Rossi copy. Although it was now in a modern binding, sewing holes in the inner fold of its leaves showed that in an earlier binding it had been sewn on five bands, just like the Vatican De Rossi copy. Moreover, in the suspect copy of the “Columbus Letter,” the leaves were numbered in pencil in the upper right corner: 1, 2, 3, 4. In the Parsons copy, the expert noticed that the leaves had been penciled in the same way, although erased. Thus, it was considered plausible that when the fake “Columbus Letter” was inserted into the volume “Ross. 674” held by the Vatican, pencil markings were added to match that of the stolen, authentic copy, making it harder to notice that there had been a replacement.

In June 2016, a separate expert in the rare book trade confirmed to HSI that the Parsons owned “Columbus Letter” was sold to a New York book dealer by Marino Massimo De Caro, a notorious Italian book thief. De Caro is currently serving a seven-year sentence in Italy for the theft of approximately 4,000 ancient books and manuscripts from public and private libraries in Italy, including the Girolamini Library in Naples, Italy.

Officials from the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See met with Vatican Library officials to present the facts of the case. Vatican Library officials agreed to send the letter in their possession (the fake letter) to the United States for comparative analysis. Subsequently in April 2017, HSI met with the expert at Princeton University to conduct a comparative analysis of the Vatican – De Rossi copy and the Parsons owned Columbus Letter. During the examination, the expert determined the Parsons Columbus Letter had been removed from the Vatican Library sometime before 2004.

In August 2017, HSI took possession of the Parsons/Vatican Columbus Letter from Mr. Parsons’ widow, who voluntarily surrendered the letter after being notified of the conclusions of the expert’s examinations. Mrs. Parsons agreed to voluntarily return the Columbus Letter as long as it is rightfully returned to the custody of the Vatican.

To date, HSI has recovered and formally returned three “Columbus Letters” as part of their ongoing investigations related to a network of dealers and brokers involved in the illicit sale of stolen books and manuscripts. In addition to the Vatican Columbus Letter, HSI has confiscated and returned Columbus Letters that belong to the Riccardiana Library, Florence, Italy and the Library of Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.



U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista L. Gingrich, will return a recovered copy of a letter written by Christopher Columbus to its rightful home at the Vatican Library on Thursday, June 14, at 11:00 a.m., according to a news release from the U.S Embassy to the Holy See.

Ambassador Gingrich, along with representatives of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) will present the letter to the Vatican’s Archivist and Librarian, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P. and the Library’s Prefect, Bishop Cesare Pasini for the event.

The Columbus Letter, as it is known, is an account of the explorer’s discovery of America written in 1493 to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The text was translated into Latin and several copies were distributed around Europe. The Vatican Library received one of these copies in 1921 as part of the “De Rossi Collection” of rare books and manuscripts.

In 2011, HSI was contacted by a rare book and manuscript expert who believed the Columbus Letter in the Vatican’s collection to be a forgery. After notifying Vatican authorities of the possible theft, DHS officials coordinated the examination of the letter by subject matter experts, including specialists from Princeton University.

It is unknown when precisely the document was stolen, but U.S. agents were able to trace the original letter to Mr. Robert Parsons, an actuary from Atlanta, who purchased it from a rare book dealer in New York City in 2004, unaware that it had been taken from the Vatican.

After being presented with evidence of the theft and forgery of the Columbus Letter, Mr. Parsons’ widow, Mary Parsons, agreed to voluntarily relinquish and abandon all rights, title, and interest in the letter so that it could be returned to the Vatican.

HSI has recovered and returned three Columbus Letters as part of their ongoing investigations into the illicit sale of stolen books and manuscripts. In addition to the Vatican Columbus Letter, HSI has confiscated and returned Columbus Letters that belong to the Riccardiana Library in Florence, Italy, and the Library of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain.

(JFL: The story about the recovered artefact first appeared last August and the Wall Street Journal was the first to print it. In its account the WSJ said that the letter describes lands with “large flowing rivers” and “trees of endless varieties,” and of timid natives who “are so unsuspicious and so generous with what they possess, that no one who had not seen it would believe it.” Hopefully the ceremony tomorrow will reveal more of the content of what is now known as The Christopher Columbus Letter)



The Apostolic Nuncio to Korea Archbishop Alfred Xuereb comments on the outcome of the summit.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb hailed Tuesday’s “truly historic” summit between the US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He said the Church is “full of hope and confidence” but warned, “we’re still at the beginning of a long process.”

Long and arduous road

Speaking from Seoul in an interview with Vatican News, Archbishop Xuereb said that the Korean people and the local Church had been anxiously awaiting “these truly historic events.” He described the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “marking an important page at the beginning of a long and arduous road” (towards peace).

At the same time, said Archbishop Xuereb, “we are hopeful because this beginning was very positive, very good” and we’ve moved from rhetoric and words like “fire and fury” and “the complete devastation of North Korea” to more conciliatory words that speak about peace.

Novena for peace

Saying the Church in Korea is living these events “with great faith,” the Nuncio described how the Catholic Cathedral in Seoul has been holding special prayers for peace and reconciliation every Tuesday. He also said the Catholic Bishops of Korea have proposed a novena from the 17th to the 25th of June to pray for peace, reconciliation and unity on the Korean peninsula.

In the wake of this historic summit and the more conciliatory climate engendered by it, Archbishop Xuereb said the Church prays for the evangelization of North Korea.

“The Holy See wishes to offer its support to any initiative in favour of dialogue and reconciliation and also take advantage of this to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to North Korea,” he said.


The Catholic Church in Korea has proposed a novena for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula as a series of summits and declarations mark the way for new diplomatic relationships between the two Koreas and with the United States.
By Linda Bordoni

The Catholic Church in Korea has proposed a novena from 17 to 25 June to pray for peace, reconciliation and unity on the Korean peninsula.

As leaders of the United States and North Korea held an historic Summit in Singapore on June 12, the Korean Church called for a novena of prayer and organized a conference for reconciliation and unity between the two Koreas who technically are still at war since the Korean Armistice Agreement signed in 1953.

Singapore Summit

After the Singapore Summit, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a “comprehensive” document, promising a new relationship between the nations and committing North Korea to work towards “the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Just over a month ago the leaders of North and South Korea, Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un signed an agreement in which they agreed to pursue talks on a peace treaty as well as denuclearization.

Panmunjom Agreement

In the 27 April Panmunjom Agreement, the two leaders committed to bring a swift end to the Cold War relic of longstanding division and confrontation, to boldly approach a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, and to improve and cultivate inter-Korean relations in a more active manner.

The Catholic Bishops of Korea have indicated a different prayer intention for each day: For healing following the separation of the Korean people; for families who have been separated by the Korean war; for the brothers and sisters who live in the North; for refugees from the North who currently live in the South; for politicians of the North and the South; for the evangelization of the North; for the promotion of exchange and dialogue between South and North; for true reconciliation between the two nations; for the peaceful reunification of the peninsula.

A Conference on the future of the Korean peninsula

The Bishops are also promoting a Conference on 21 June to take place at the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Daegu. Dedicated to a new future of the Korean peninsula thanks to fruitful exchanges between South and North, the event foresees the participation of the Bishops of Uijeongbu and Daegu as well as a panel of experts.


Following are two stories about the resignations of three Chilean bishops accepted by Pope Francis. You will recall that all of the nation’s bishops tendered their resignations at the end of their meeting in Rome with Pope Francis last month. The first article is the Vatican’s brief announcement, and the second is CNA’s story that includes background, etc.

One of the bishops whose resignation was accepted was Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno. In 2015 Pope Francis appointed Bishop Barros to the Diocese of Osorno, an appointment that was extremely controversial in Chile as Barros had been accused of covering up sexual abuse by a close priest friend, Fr. Fernando Karadima. Victims tried for years to convince authorities of Karadima’s crimes and Barros’ coverup. In 2011, Karadima was pronounced guilty and ordered to a life of prayer and seclusion).


The Holy See Press Office announces that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of three Chilean Bishops–two for reasons of having reached the age limit.

Diocese of Osorno, Chile
The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the diocese of Osorno, Chile, presented by His Excellency Msgr. Juan Barros Madrid.

The Holy Father has appointed as Apostolic Administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the same diocese of Osorno, Chile, His Excellency Msgr Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo, O.F.M., Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago de Chile, Chile.

Archdiocese of Puerto Montt, Chile
The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the diocese of Puerto Montt, Chile, presented by His Excellency Msgr. Cristián Caro Cordero, for reasons of having reached the age limit.

The Holy Father has appointed as Apostolic Administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the same archdiocese, Puerto Montt, Chile, the Reverend Father Ricardo Basilio Morales Galindo, O. de M., Provincial of the Mercedarians in Chile.

Diocese of Valparaiso, Chile
The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the diocese of Valparaiso, Chile, presented by His Excellency Msgr. Gonzalo Duarte García De Cortázar, SS.CC., for reasons of having reached the age limit.

The Holy Father has appointed as Apostolic Administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the same diocese, Valparaiso, Chile, the His Excellency Msgr. Pedro Mario Ossandón Buljevic, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago de Chile, Chile.


Vatican City, Jun 11, 2018 (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Monday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid from his post in the diocese of Osorno, after being accused of covering-up for Chile’s most notorious abuser priest, Fernando Karadima.

The announcement came in a June 11 communique from the Vatican, along with the resignation of two other Chilean bishops who had reached the age of retirement.

Barros submitted his resignation to Pope Francis alongside every other active bishop in Chile at the close of a May 15-17 meeting between the pope and Chilean prelates, during which Francis chastised the bishops for systematic cover-up of abuse throughout the country.

Taking over as in Barros’ stead is Bishop Jorge Enrique Conchua Cayuqueo, O.F.M., auxiliary bishop of Santiago, who will serve as apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Osorno.

In addition to Barros, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt, naming Fr. Ricardo Basilio Morales Galindo, provincial for the Order of Mercy in Chile as apostolic administrator.

He also accepted the resignation of Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso, naming Bishop Pedro Mario Ossandón Buljevic, auxiliary bishop of Santiago, as apostolic administrator.

Both Caro and Duarte had reached the normal retirement age for bishops, at which it is customary for bishops to submit their resignation.

Francis had summoned the bishops of the country to Rome following an in-depth investigation and report into the Chilean clerical abuse crisis carried out by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in February, resulting in a 2,300 page report on the scandal.

The decision of whether to accept the bishops’ resignations is up toPope Francis. So far Barros, Caro and Duarte are the first bishops whose resignation Pope Francis has formally accepted.

The announcement of Barros’ resignation coincides with the announcement that Scicluna and Bertomeu will make another visit to Chile June 12-19, this time traveling to the diocese of Osorno, which Barros has led since 2015. The investigators will spend June 14-17 in Osorno, and the remainder of their time will be spent in Santiago.

Pope Francis’ appointment of Barros to Osorno in 2015 was met with a wave of objections and calls for his resignation. Dozens of protesters, including non-Catholics, attempted to disrupt his March 21, 2015 installation Mass at the Osorno cathedral.

Opponents have been vocal about their opposition to Barros ever since, with some of the most outspoken being victims of Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing several minors during the 1980s and 1990s, and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.

Barros maintained his innocence, saying he didn’t know the abuse was happening. Pope Francis initially backed him, refusing to allow Barros to step down from his post and calling accusations against him “calumny” during a visit to Chile in January.

However, after Scicluna and Bertomeu’s investigation, the pope in April apologized for having made “serious mistakes” in judging the case due to “a lack of truthful and balanced information.”

Since then, he has met with two rounds of abuse survivors in addition to his meeting with Chilean bishops.