He Met the Victims and Personally Asked for Their Forgiveness
Pope Francis admitted “grave errors” in managing Chile sexual abuse cases. The pontiff had earlier fiercely defended a bishop who was accused of hiding abuse by Bishop Juan Barros Madrid. The latter is now known as one of the worst pedophile priests in the South American nation.
A remorseful pope has written a letter to Chilean bishops, subsequently published on April 10, where he had invited representatives of church abuse to Rome. He wanted to personally apologize to them. The pontiff had faced criticism that he is blind to sex abuse issues in Roman Catholic Church. He wrote that when he heard about the victims’ crucified lives, he felt deep pain and shame. In his letter, he said that he recognizes his error about how he previously viewed the situation. He added that this erroroneous opinion was formed as he did not have truthful information.
The next few weeks will witness the pope meeting with the Chilean sexual abuse victims. Jaime Coiri, the spokesperson for Chilean bishops’ conference, said he will ask every individual victim for forgiveness. The victims of sexual abuse expressed anger against Pope Francis when he made a trip to the South American nation in January. The pope in every interview defended the accused Bishop Juan Barros, the person who victims claim protected Reverend Fernando Karadima. The victims also allege that he not only protected Karadima, reputedly his mentor, he also observed the abuse Karadima did.
The pope, at the time of his Chile trip, was furtively recorded accusing the victims of wrongfully blaming Barros. Even in a later interview, the pope rejected all accusations made against Barros. The pontiff claimed the victims have not come forward. He also said the accusers must present “proof” of all the claims they have made. A subsequent investigation by a media house found out Pope Francis had received one letter about how Barros was witness to the abuse done by Karadima. He never did anything to halt such torture.
In his letter, the pope said the Vatican had sent a delegation under the leadership of Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and the team has taken the comprehensive testimonies of 64 individuals in New York and Santiago. Scicluna is a Maltese prelate who is well known in his fight against sex abuse by the Catholic clergy. The subsequent report consists of 2,300 pages. The pope changed his skeptic mind after reading the report.