Vatican prober meets with Chilean bishop accused of covering up sex abuse

Bishop Juan Barros (center) attends his first religious service as citizens protest against him at the Osorno cathedral, south of Santiago, Chile. (Reuters file)

SANTIAGO — A Vatican investigator sent to Chile by Pope Francis to interview sex abuse victims met on Friday with Chilean Bishop Juan Barros about accusations that he covered-up sexual abuse of minors committed by a priest.

The investigator, Spanish priest Jordi Bertomeu, declined to share details of the interview with Barros, but told reporters the meeting was “cordial and friendly.”

Earlier in the day, the Vatican’s lead investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, was released from a hospital in Santiago after undergoing emergency gallbladder surgery, and may conduct more interviews.

Scicluna has recovered well and will remain in the country to rest, Episcopal Conference spokesman Jaime Coiro said.

Scicluna’s assistant, Bertomeu, was enlisted to replace him in scheduled interviews with sex abuse victims through Friday.

The investigators are in Chile to look into accusations that Barros hid information about the sexual abuse of minors by his mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. Barros has said he was unaware of any wrongdoing by Karadima.