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 to Pope 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.