Pope: 'I Made Serious Mistakes In Judgement And Apologize'

12 April, 2018, 07:36 | Author: Laverne Higgins
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In the following weeks, Francis will meet in Rome with some victims of clerical sexual abuse from Chile and individually ask them for their forgiveness, according to the spokesman for the Chilean bishops' conference.

"I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some of the ministers of the church", he said.

Francis' decision to send Archbishop Scicluna to Santiago to investigate the accusations came after controversy flared during the pope's January 15-18 visit to Chile, during which he responded to a Chilean journalist who asked about the Bishop Barros issue, saying the accusations were "calumny", because there was no proof.

During his February visit, Pope Francis said: "The day I receive proof against Archbishop Barros, I will speak..."

He also sent Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's sex abuse investigator, to probe the allegations against Karadima. The pope is hoping the meeting will bring back "serenity" in the Chilean Church and "repair the scandal as much as possible and re-establish justice".

"If Francis was misinformed or inadequately informed, it was because he chose to be so", she said.

During a visit to Chile earlier this year, the Pope strongly defended Bishop Juan Barros despite accusations by victims that the Chilean priest witnessed and ignored their abuse at the hands of the Reverend Fernando Karadima.

Francis blamed a lack of "true and balanced information" in his missteps in judging Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile's most notorious predator priest. Karadima had always been a darling of the Chilean hierarchy and his victims have accused church leaders of covering up his crimes to protect the church's reputation.

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Scicluna and his colleague, Father Jordi Bertomeu, spent almost two weeks in Chile and NY earlier this year interviewing Father Fernando Karadima's victims, who for years have denounced Barros' denials that he witnessed Karadima's abuse.

"When the media shame us by presenting a Church nearly always in a new moon, deprived of the light of the Sun of justice and we are tempted to doubt the Easter victory of the Risen One, I believe that like St. Thomas we should not fear doubt, but fear the pretense of wanting to see without trusting the testimony of those who heard from the lips of the Lord the most lovely promise", Francis wrote in the letter.

"For my part, I recognize - and so I want it to be faithfully transmitted - that I have fallen in grave errors of judgment and perception of the situation, especially due to the lack of truthful and balanced information", Francis wrote. He apologized to all those he offended and said that he would like to do it personally in the coming weeks during the meetings he will hold with representatives of the people interviewed.

Karadima, an influential Chilean priest, was convicted by the Vatican in 2011 of abusing teenage boys and sentenced to a life of penitence. Still, they said specific measures, including the resignation of Barros, were needed to restore confidence in the Church.

Opponents of Bishop Barros have been vocal since his 2015 appointment to lead the Diocese of Osorno, with many, including a number of Karadima's victims, accusing the bishop of covering up the abuse, and also also at times participating.

The president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, Bishop Santiago Silva, said that the church "had not done enough" in the case. But, he added, "obviously we didn't do everything we should have done".

Associated Press writer Nicole Winfield reported this story at the Vatican and AP writer Eva Vergara reported from Punta de Tralca, Chile.

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