Report: Sex abuse victim refutes pope’s claim as pressure builds on Vatican

by WorldTribune Staff, February 5, 2018

A letter from a Chilean sex abuse victim contradicts Pope Francis’s “insistence that no victims had come forward,” The Associated Press reported.

The eight-page letter that Pope Francis received in 2015, obtained exclusively by the AP, “graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused” the victim and how “other Chilean clergy ignored it,” the report said.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass at O’Higgins Park in Santiago, Chile on Jan. 16. / AP

The pope had claimed that no one “had come forward to denounce the cover-up, the letter’s author and members of Francis’ own sex-abuse commission” have told the AP.

“The fact that Francis received” the letter “challenges his insistence that he has ‘zero tolerance’ for sex abuse and cover-ups,” the AP said. “It also calls into question his stated empathy with abuse survivors, compounding the most serious crisis of his five-year papacy.”

The scandal gained international headlines last month during Francis’s trip to South America as demonstrators showed up to protest “his vigorous defense of Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring the abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima,” the AP report said.

“During the trip, Francis callously dismissed accusations against Barros as ‘slander,’ seemingly unaware that victims had placed him at the scene of Karadima’s crimes.”

On the return plane trip to the Vatican, the pope told an AP reporter: “You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.”

But, the AP noted, “members of the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors say that in April 2015, they sent a delegation to Rome specifically to hand-deliver a letter to the pope about Barros. The letter from Juan Carlos Cruz detailed the abuse, kissing and fondling he says he suffered at Karadima’s hands, which he said Barros and others saw but did nothing to stop.

“Four members of the commission met with Francis’ top abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, explained their objections to Francis’ recent appointment of Barros as a bishop in southern Chile, and gave him the letter to deliver to Francis,” the report said.

Then-commission member Marie Collins told the AP: “When we gave him (O’Malley) the letter for the pope, he assured us he would give it to the pope and speak of the concerns. And at a later date, he assured us that that had been done.”

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Pope Francis on Feb. 5.

Erdogan’s is the first state visit by a Turkish leader to the Vatican in 59 years. Turkey and the Vatican have been at odds since June 2016, when Francis referred to the World War I mass killings of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman troops as “genocide.”

Turkey rejects the use of the term genocide to describe the killings and reacted by accusing the pope of spreading “lies and slander.”

A small, authorized Kurdish demonstration against Erdogan’s visit was held outside the Vatican.

Francis and Erdogan were expected to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Vatican supports a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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