Pope Says He Made 'Grave Mistakes' In Handling Sex Abuse Allegations

Pope Says He Made 'Grave Mistakes' In Handling Sex Abuse Allegations

Pope Says He Made 'Grave Mistakes' In Handling Sex Abuse Allegations

In a letter to Chile's bishops, the Pope admitted to misjudging the severity of the affair: 'I have made serious mistakes in the judgement and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information'.

"I apologize to all those I have offended and I hope to be able to do it personally in the coming weeks, in the meetings I will have". The letter was released by the Vatican late on Wednesday April 11.

"We recognize the pope's gesture, and we are evaluating the possibility of going, " the survivors wrote.

Many of Chile's bishops, and members of Francis' own sex abuse advisory board, had questioned Barros' suitability to lead a diocese given claims by Karadima's victims that Barros stood by and did nothing while Karadima groped them.

The Pope's letter comes after Archbishop Scicluna made a February 19-25 visit to the United States and Chile to investigate accusations of negligence on the part of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, who has been accused of covering up abuse of his longtime friend Fernando Karadima. Father Karadima denied the charges; he was not prosecuted civilly because the statute of limitations had run out. In interviews, Francis defended Bishop Juan Barros, who victims claim protected and in some cases observed abuse carried out on teenage boys by his mentor Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Pope Francis drew the ire of Chilean abuse victims and their allies during a trip to Chile in January.

However, speaking to reporters, he pledged his support for Bishop Barros and said: "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak". There is not one shred of proof against him; it's all slander.

He later apologised to the victims and admitted that his choice of words wounded many.

The letter followed a visit to Chile by one of the Vatican's most experienced sexual abuse investigators, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. The Vatican convicted Karadima of abuse in 2011. After reading the 2,300-page dossier his envoys prepared, Francis affirmed the victims "spoke in a stark way, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives".

In his letter, Francis said the Chilean Church now had "to fix the scandal as much as possible and restore justice".

In addition to his interviews on the Bishop Barros case, Scicluna also met with alleged victims of abuse by the Marist Brothers, a move that seemingly broadened the scope of his mandate in the country.

The president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, Bishop Santiago Silva, said that the church "had not done enough" in the case.

"Now more than ever we can not fall back into the temptation of verbiage or stain in 'universals, ' he said, and told the bishops to look to Christ in the coming days and weeks". "Our commitment is that this does not happen again".

In an extraordinary public letter, Francis also summoned all of Chile's bishops to the Vatican for an emergency meeting in the coming weeks to discuss repairing the damage from the scandal, which has badly tarnished his reputation and that of the Chilean church.

"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.

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