by WorldTribune Staff, January 16, 2018
Priests in the Catholic Church have done “irreparable damage” to the children they have raped and molested, Pope Francis declared during a visit to Chile on Jan. 15.
“I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again,” the pope said during a speech in Santiago.
Anne Barrett Doyle, of the online abuse database BishopAccountability.org, told The Associated Press that the apology was a good first step from Francis, but added that Chileans expect him to take action against church leaders complicit in the sex abuse scandal and its coverup.
“This is a crucial opportunity for Francis: With luck, he will not make the mistake of his brother bishops in underestimating the savviness and moral outrage of the Chilean people,” said Barrett Doyle, whose research shows some 80 Chilean priests have been credibly accused or convicted of abuse.
The AP noted that Francis did not mention by name Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima. In 2011, Karadima was sanctioned by the Vatican to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for sexually molesting minors.
Many Chileans “are still furious over Francis’ subsequent decision, in 2015, to appoint a Karadima protege as bishop of the southern city of Osorno,” the AP report said. “Bishop Juan Barros has denied knowing about Karadima’s abuse but many Chileans don’t believe him, and his appointment has badly split the diocese.”
“Sex abuse is Pope Francis’ weakest spot in terms of his credibility,” Massimo Faggioli, a Vatican analyst and theology professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia told the AP. “It is surprising that the pope and his entourage don’t understand that they need to be more forthcoming on this issue.”