The archbishop of Santiago has been accused of covering up sexual abuse cases, including that of former top aide Oscar Munoz. The decision comes as the Catholic Church fights for its reputation.
Pope Francis has accepted Ricardo Ezzati's resignation as the archbishop of Santiago, the Vatican said Saturday.
The 77-year-old was the highest ranking member of the Catholic church in Chile. He had submitted his resignation two years ago when he reached the mandatory retirement age.
But Pope Francis kept him on despite strong criticism from abuse survivors for what they regard as Ezzati's mishandling of several abuse cases.
They include the case of former Santiago aide Oscar Munoz, who is facing trial on charges he abused and raped at least five children. Ezzati denies any wrongdoing.
Pope Francis became involved in the scandal during his trip to Chile in January last year when he rejected accusations from victims.
Vatican investigation in Chile
However, after visiting Chile and speaking to victims of clerical abuse, Vatican investigators produced a 2,300-page report in May alleging that senior church officials in Chile had failed to act on abuse claims and in some cases hid them.
Pope Francis then changed his opinion and brought all 34 of Chile's bishops to the Vatican and obliged them to offer their resignations. Ezzati's exit brings the number of resignations accepted since that emergency meeting to eight.
Bishop Celestino Aos Braco of Copiapo was named "apostolic administrator" by the Vatican on Saturday to run the Santiago archdiocese until a new archbishop is named.
Chilean investigators have probed some 167 Church officials or workers over allegations of sexual abuse or cover-ups in recent years.
Italian-Chilean Ezzati was archbishop of Santiago from December 2010 to March 2019. He had been a cardinal since February 2014. Last October, he maintained a right to silence after he was summoned by a state prosecutor for questioning over the allegations.
Last week, former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne, Australia. He was the most senior Catholic to be convicted for child sex offenses.
jm/amp (Reuters, AP)