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After coming under excoriating public criticism, Pope Francis has decided to send the Vatican’s most respected sex crimes expert to Chile to investigate a bishop accused by victims of covering up for the country’s most notorious pedophile priest, AP reported.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna would travel to Chile “to listen to those who have expressed the desire to provide elements” about the case of Bishop Juan Barros.

The move marks the first known time the Vatican has launched a full-blown investigation into allegations of sex abuse cover-up, and it comes after Francis was harshly criticized for his defense of Barros by the media, survivors of abuse, his fellow Jesuits and by some of his most trusted advisers.

The Barros controversy dominated Francis’ just-ended trip to Chile and Peru and exposed his blind spot about clerical abuse. Even the head of his abuse advisory panel, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, publicly rebuked him for his dismissive treatment of victims and tried to set him straight.

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