SANTIAGO, Chile — The Vatican was so concerned about the fallout from Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest that it planned to ask three Chilean bishops accused of knowing about his decades-long crimes to resign and take a year’s sabbatical – a revelation that comes just days before Pope Francis makes his first visit to Chile as pope.

A confidential 2015 letter from Francis details the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the Vatican and Chile’s bishops to deal with the prelates connected to the disgraced Rev. Fernando Karadima. And it reveals the bishops’ concern about Francis naming a Karadima protege, Bishop Juan Barros, to the helm of the diocese of Osorno – an appointment that roiled the diocese, with hundreds of priests and lay Catholics staging protests against him.

Chile’s Catholic Church was thrown into crisis in 2010 when former parishioners publicly accused Karadima of sexually abusing them when they were minors, starting in the 1980s.