Pope accuses sexual assault victims in Chile of slander – National


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Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most infamous pedophile of slander Thursday, an astonishing finish to a go to meant to assist heal the injuries of a intercourse abuse scandal that has value the Catholic Church its credibility within the nation.

Francis mentioned that till he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in masking up the intercourse crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadimas, such accusations in opposition to Barros are “all calumny.”

The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and fast rebuke from victims and their advocates. They famous the accusers had been deemed credible sufficient by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011. A Chilean decide additionally discovered the victims to be credible, saying that whereas she needed to drop prison costs in opposition to Karadima as a result of an excessive amount of time had handed, proof of his crimes wasn’t missing.

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“As if I may have taken a selfie or a photograph whereas Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching all of it,” tweeted Barros’ most vocal accuser, Juan Carlos Cruz. “These persons are really loopy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has modified, and his plea for forgiveness is empty.”

The Karadima scandal dominated Francis’ go to to Chile and the general subject of intercourse abuse and church coverup was more likely to issue into his three-day journey to Peru that started late Thursday.

Karadima’s victims reported to church authorities as early as 2002 that he would kiss and fondle them within the swank Santiago parish he ran, however officers refused to imagine them. Solely when the victims went public with their accusations in 2010 did the Vatican launch an investigation that led to Karadima being faraway from ministry.

The emeritus archbishop of Santiago subsequently apologized for having refused to imagine the victims from the beginning.

Francis reopened the injuries of the scandal in 2015 when he named Barros, a protege of Karadima, as bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno. Karadima’s victims say Barros knew of the abuse, having seen it, however did nothing. Barros has denied the allegations.

Bishop Juan Barros looks on as Pope Francis leaves at the end of a mass at the Lobito beach in Iquique, Chile, January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Bishop Juan Barros seems to be on as Pope Francis leaves on the finish of a mass on the Lobito seashore in Iquique, Chile, January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

His appointment outraged Chileans, badly divided the Osorno diocese and additional undermined the church’s already shaky credibility within the nation.

Francis had sought to heal the injuries by assembly this week with abuse victims and begging forgiveness for the crimes of church pastors. However on Thursday, he struck a defiant tone when requested by a Chilean journalist about Barros.

“The day they create me proof in opposition to Bishop Barros, I’ll converse,” Francis mentioned. “There may be not one shred of proof in opposition to him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

Francis had defended the appointment earlier than, calling the Osorno controversy “silly” and the results of a marketing campaign mounted by leftists. However The Related Press reported final week that the Vatican was so nervous in regards to the fallout from the Karadima affair that it was ready in 2014 to ask Barros and two different Karadima-trained bishops to resign and go on a yearlong sabbatical.

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In response to a Jan. 31, 2015, letter obtained by AP from Francis to the chief committee of the Chilean bishops’ convention, the plan fell aside and Barros was despatched to Osorno.

Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a gaggle of Osorno lay Catholics who’ve mounted a three-year marketing campaign in opposition to Barros, questioned why Francis was now accusing the victims of slandering Barros when the Vatican was so satisfied of their claims that it deliberate to take away him in 2014.

“Isn’t the pastoral downside that we’re dwelling (in Osorno) sufficient to eliminate him?” Claret requested.

The reference was to the truth that – responsible or not – Barros has been unable to do his job as a result of so many Osorno Catholics and clergymen don’t acknowledge him as their bishop. They staged an unprecedented protest throughout his 2015 set up ceremony and have protested his presence ever since.

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Anne Barrett Doyle, of the net database BishopAccountability.org, mentioned it was “unhappy and unsuitable” for the pope to discredit the victims since “the burden of proof right here rests with the church, not the victims – and particularly not with victims whose veracity has already been affirmed.”

“He has simply turned again the clock to the darkest days of this disaster,” she mentioned in a press release. “Who is aware of what number of victims now will resolve to remain hidden, for concern they won’t be believed?”

Certainly, Catholic officers for years accused victims of slandering and attacking the church with their claims. However up till Francis’ phrases Thursday, many within the church and Vatican had come to reluctantly acknowledge that victims often advised the reality and that the church for many years had wrongly sought to guard its personal.

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German Silva, a political scientist at Santiago’s Universidad Mayor, mentioned the pope’s feedback had been a “large error” that may reverberate in Chile and past.

Patricio Navia, political science professor at Diego Portales College in Santiago, mentioned Francis had gone a lot additional than Chilean bishops in acknowledging the sexual abuse scandal, which many Chileans appreciated.

“Then proper earlier than leaving, Francis turns round and says: ‘By the way in which, I don’t suppose Barros is responsible. Present me some proof,”‘ Navia mentioned, including that the remark will in all probability erase any good will the pope had received over the difficulty.

Navia mentioned the Karadima scandal had radically modified how Chileans view the church.

“Within the typical Chilean household, mother and father (now) suppose twice earlier than sending their youngsters to Catholic college since you by no means know what’s going to occur,” Navia mentioned.

Related Press writers Peter Prengaman and Eva Vergara contributed to this report.

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