Pope Francis has thanked Chilean bishops meeting at the Vatican over the sexual abuse crisis for being open to changes in the “short, medium and long term”. Source: Crux.
In a letter the Pope gave the bishops which the Vatican released yesterday, the Pontiff called the Chilean bishops to continue working for a “prophetic Church, capable of putting at the centre what’s important: the service to her Lord in the hungry, the imprisoned, the migrant, the abused.”
In the text, Francis also thanked the bishops for “welcoming the invitation” to undertake a “frank discernment about the grave events that have damaged ecclesial communion and weakened the work of the Church of Chile in recent years.”
The Pope had summoned the bishops to Rome after dispatching Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Fr Jordi Bertomeu to Chile to look into the case of Bishop Juan Barros, accused by survivors of clerical sexual abuse of covering up for his mentor Fr Fernando Karadima.
Fr Karadima has been found guilty by the Vatican of abusing minors, as well as abuses of power and conscience with his followers.
Four of Chile’s bishops were part of Fr Karadima’s inner circle, including Bishop Barros.
Francis openly supported Bishop Barros on several occasions, including his trip to Chile in January. Yet 10 days after coming back from Chile, he sent Archbishop Scicluna and Fr Bertomeu, who spoke with 64 people and produced a 2300-page report.
After receiving the report, Francis sent a letter to the Chilean bishops acknowledging he’d been wrong, and summoning all of them to Rome.
Both the report and the content of the discussions between the Pope and the bishops this week have been confidential. However, the Chileans have announced that Bishop Fernando Ramos, president of the bishops’ conference, will speak to the press today.
“In the light of these painful events regarding abuses – of minors, of power and of conscience – we have deepened in the seriousness of these as well as in the tragic consequences that they have had, particularly for the victims,” Francis said in the letter.