In 2002, several Chilean men reported to church authorities that they had been sexually abused in the 1980 and 1990s by Rev. Fernando Karadima. Only after the victims went public in 2010 did the Vatican investigate, which lead to Rev. Karadima’s removal from ministry. A Chilean judge believed the sexual abuse victims, however, too much time had passed, so criminal charges had to be dropped. In 2011, the Vatican sentenced Rev. Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes. Karadims’s longtime friend: Rev. Juan Barros was accused of standing by and watching the sex crimes and covering them up. Barros has always maintained his innocence, saying he didn’t know the abuse was happening. Apparently Pope Francis was persuaded that the covering up accusations against Rev. Barros were untrue, and despite criticism, Barros was made bishop in 2015. But criticism continued and Bishop Barros submitted a letter of resignation multiple times, but Pope Francis refused to allow Barros to step down from his post. When Pope Francis was finishing his trip to Chile in January, 2018, he shocked many Chileans and advocates of sexual abuse victims with his response to a Chilean journalist’s question. He said that there was no proof that Bishop Juan Barros was involved in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Karadima and that those accusations are slander. Later Pope Francis received more information concerning Bishop Barros and decided to send Archbishop Charles Scicluna and a Vatican team to Chile to investigate and receive information concerning the case of Bishop Barros. The Archbishop’s investigative work in Chile was interrupted by gallbladder surgery, where he spent three days in the hospital. Eventually the testimonies of 64 people were taken which produced a 2,300 page report and which was delivered to Pope Francis on March 20, 2018. After reviewing the report Pope Francis wrote a remarkable letter to the bishops of Chile. In the letter he admitted to making “serious mistakes” in handling Chile’s scandalous sexual abuse crisis, and asked for forgiveness. He summoned Chile’s bishops to Rome to address the issue, and invited victims to meet with him as well. Pope Francis said after a “slow reading” of the report, “I can affirm that all the testimonies collected speak in a stark manner, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and I confess that this has caused me pain and shame.” Francis admitted to misjudging the severity of the affair, telling the Chilean bishops that “I have made serious mistakes in the judgement and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information.” He asked them to “faithfully communicate” this recognition, and he apologized to all those he might have offended. In the coming weeks Pope Francis plans to meet with some victims of abuse carried out by Chilean clergy, and ask each one personally for forgiveness.
Sources: MoynihanReport@gmail.com, vaticannews.va, ny!mes.com, usatoday.com, ncronline.org