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Vatican defends Pope Francis' appointment of controversial Chilean bishop

Rev. Juan Barros in his ordination ceremony as bishop in Osorno, Chile, on March 21, 2015.

Rev. Juan Barros in his ordination ceremony as bishop in Osorno, Chile, on March 21, 2015.  (AP)

The Vatican is defending Pope Francis' appointment of a Chilean bishop despite allegations from victims that the prelate had covered up for a pedophile priest.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Tuesday that before Monsignor Juan Barros was named to be bishop of Osorno, Chile, the Holy See's Congregation for Bishops "carefully examined the prelate's candidature and didn't find objective reasons to preclude the appointment."

The bishop's recent installation triggered nationwide political opposition, violent protests in the cathedral and a boycott by many of the diocese's priests.

A former Chilean military chaplain, Barros has insisted he didn't know about the abuse until reading 2010 news reports. Barros was a protege of the priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, sanctioned in 2011 by the Vatican for sexually abusing minors.

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