Abuse scandals put a damper on Pope's first visit to Chile

Abuse scandals put a damper on Pope's first visit to Chile January 17, 2018

Pope Francis is in Chile – and the country is less than ecstatic about his visit. Many in fact are downright incensed, their anger manifesting itself in protests and the firebombing of nine churches.
The source of their anger, according to this report, was sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Chile, and the Pope, on his first visit to the country, was forced to address the issue shortly after his arrival.

He met with survivors of priests who sexually abused them, wept with them and apologised for the “irreparable damage” they suffered.
The pontiff also acknowledged the “pain” of priests who have been held collectively responsible for the crimes of a few, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told reporters on Tuesday.
Francis dived head-first into Chile’s sex abuse scandal on his first full day in Santiago that came amid unprecedented opposition to his visit: three more churches has been torched overnight, including one burned to the ground in the southern Araucania region where Francis celebrates Mass today (Wednesday)
Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up an anti-pope protest outside Francis’ big open-air Mass in the capital, Santiago.
At his first event of his visit, Francis met privately with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and addressed lawmakers, judges and other authorities at La Moneda palace.
They interrupted him with applause when he said he felt “bound to express my pain and shame” that some of Chile’s pastors had sexually abused children in their care.

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.

Francis didn’t refer by name to Chile’s most notorious paedophile priest, the Rev Fernando Karadima, who was merely  “sanctioned” in 2011 by the Vatican.

Paedophile priest Fernando Karadima (seen in November 2015) is escorted from a court. The judge said the time limit had expired for prosecution on the case, involving the abuse of three young boys. The Vatican ordered Karadima to a life of penance and prayer in 2011 but the three victims who filed the suit accused the Chilean Catholic Church of a cover up. The church has rejected the accusation. Photo: AP
Nor did he refer to the fact that the emeritus archbishop of Santiago, a top papal adviser, has acknowledged he knew of complaints against Karadima but didn’t remove him from ministry.
Karadima had been a politically connected, charismatic and powerful priest who ministered to a wealthy Santiago community and produced dozens of priestly vocations and five bishops.
Victims went public with their accusations in 2010, after complaining for years to church authorities that Karadima would kiss and fondle them when they were teenagers.
While the scandal rocked the church, many Chileans are still furious over Francis’ subsequent decision, in 2015, to appoint a Karadima protégé as bishop of the southern city of Osorno.
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.
Barros surrounded by angry protesters in 2015
Said Massimo Faggioli, a Vatican expert and theology professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia:

Sex abuse is Pope Francis’ weakest spot in terms of his credibility. It is surprising that the pope and his entourage don’t understand that they need to be more forthcoming on this issue.

The Karadima scandal and a long cover-up has caused a crisis for the church in Chile, with a recent Latinbarometro survey saying the case was responsible for a significant drop in the number of Chileans who call themselves Catholic, as well as a fall in confidence in the church as an institution.
Said Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a group of church members in Osorno that has opposed Barros’ appointment as bishop.

People are leaving the church because they don’t find a protective space there. The pastors are eating the flock.

Victor Hugo Robles, an activist in Chile’s lesbian and gay community, said the Vatican tries to paint an image of the Pope as being close to the people, particularly those with the most needs.

We are the ones who need help,. Gay people, people living with Aids. When it comes to those things, the church has an attitude of intolerance, of disgust.

Meanwhile, it’s reported here that survivors of abuse committed at a British Catholic school attended by the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, are asking him to press for the publication of an independent review they claim has been hushed up.
Hinds was a pupil in the 1980s at St Ambrose College near Altrincham in Greater Manchester.

Alan Morris, above, a former chemistry teacher at St Ambrose and a church deacon, was jailed for nine years in 2014 for indecent assault and gross indecency against 19 boys between 1973 and 1990.
Police said it was likely that two other teachers would have been charged with serious sexual offences but had died.
After Morris’s trial, the Christian Brothers – the Catholic order that runs the school – and the Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE), another Catholic body, commissioned an independent review into abuse and safeguarding at St Ambrose. The report is believed to have been delivered in the autumn of 2016 but has so far not been published.
David Nolan, a former pupil and one of about 70 survivors of abuse at the school who remain in contact, said the “disappearance” of the review was “immensely frustrating”.
There has never been a suggestion that Hinds was abused, but Nolan said that he hoped the Education Secretary, in his new role, would ensure the report was published.

Hinds was there when some of the worst abuse happened. Now, as education secretary, he could help us get at the truth. Publication of the report would go some way to acknowledging what happened.

Nolan, who wrote a book, Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, about abuse at St Ambrose, said he had attended the funerals of two former pupils – one who “drank himself to death” and another who killed himself – in the past year.
Another former pupil who was abused, Derek Scanlan, gave evidence at Morris’s trial and was in the year above Hinds.

All of us who were there knew there was a culture of sexual, physical and mental abuse in that era. Morris was convicted and sent to prison, but we want the findings of the inquiry to be made public and the lessons to be learned. But it’s been brushed under the carpet.

A third ex-pupil who asked not to be named said:

Given Hinds’ history with the school and the position he now holds, he should step in and ensure this report is made public.

After his trial, police said Morris:

Revelled in his fearsome reputation, taking it upon himself to seek out and punish pupils, using corporal punishment to cloak his real motive for chastising young boys: sexual gratification.?

James Keulemans, principal of St Ambrose, said he had asked for the inquiry report to be published in its entirety and as soon as possible.

I’ve no idea what’s causing the delay.

In a statement, the Christian Brothers said:

The SCOE together with the Shrewsbury diocese are reviewing the report and its recommendations to identify learning and action steps, following which the report is due to be published. The trustees of the Christian Brothers will publish the report and are now taking action to expedite this matter.

The SCOE said it planned to consider the report at a meeting next week and anticipated it would be released subsequently.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn (St Ambrose report)

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  • Gaurav Tyagi

    Good article Barry. What’s the point of this so called Pope Francis weeping with the victims of sexual abuse by his predatory Christian Priests in Chile? He should publicly name, shame the perpetrators of these ghastly acts and terminate their church association besides financially compensating the victims. Shedding crocodile tears won’t help the victims in any manner, whatsoever.

  • andym

    Clever piece of deflection by the Pope,better than that of his predecessor* , but probably won’t work . He knows full well people aren’t just angry with the Church because of paedophiles within it, as he makes out to be the case. They are angry that his Church covered it up for years, and still blocks any attempt at redress.The way he phrases it makes it seem like the RCC were also victims.
    *In 2010 Pope Benedict, on his visit to the UK, immediately tried to divert attention from the scandal by on arrival launching a scandalous attack on secularism, equating it with Nazism.

  • Broga

    Excellent article, Barry. We need to see journalism of this quality in the national media instead of the usual deflections, censorship and equivocations.
    The Pope must have been shocked not to receive the usual phony applause from his admiring hordes. This kind of reaction is the only response that will bring about honest comment from the Vatican. Assuming that is any longer possible.

  • Farmer Giles

    “The pontiff also acknowledged the “pain” of priests who have been held collectively responsible for the crimes of a few,…”
    What pain did these priests feel?
    What pain?
    The pain of being associated, by virtue of their membership of nasty, actually evil, institution, with child rapists?
    I have no sympathy for them at all. None. Nor do they deserve any.

  • Farmer Giles

    And does the pope himself feel or feign the pain? The pain of the hundreds of thousands of chidren that have been raped and ruined by catholic priests who viewed them as a their rightful reward for their priestly sacrifices?
    I think the pope feels a great deal of regret and remorse that he has the job of damage limitation for the horrible crimes of the catholic church.
    Name the crime and the catholic church is guilty of it. And the pope knows it. But he was selected by the cardinals to be the one to face off to the world. A real poison chalice and no mistake. Well its his job and he wanted it. Lets hope he caves in just like his predecessor who found out that he was not big enough for the job. Next pope please.

  • AgentCormac

    If you haven’t been to see the superb movie ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ yet, you really should. In it the central character, Mildred, comes home to discover the local priest waiting there so he can admonish her about a campaign she’s started in the hope of prompting the police to find the man responsible for her daughter’s murder. This is Mildred’s response.
    MILDRED
    Y’know what I was thinking about, earlier today? I was thinking ‘bout those streetgangs they got in Los Angeles, the Crips and the Bloods? I was thinking about that buncha new laws they came up with, in the 80’s I think it was, to combat those street-gangs, those Crips and those Bloods.
    And, if I remember rightly, the gist of what those new laws said was, if you join one of these gangs, and you’re running with ‘em, and down the block from you one night, unbeknownst to you, your fellow Crips, or your fellow Bloods, shoot up a place, or stab a guy, well, even though you didn’t know nothing about it, even though you may’ve just been standing on a street corner minding your own business, those new laws said you are still culpable. You are still culpable, by the very act of joining those Crips, or those Bloods, in the first place.
    Which got me thinking, Father, that whole type of situation is kinda similar to you Church boys, ain’t it? You’ve got your colors, you’ve got your clubhouse, you’re, for want of a better word, a gang. And if you’re upstairs smoking a pipe and reading a bible while one of your fellow gang members is downstairs fucking an altar boy then, Father, just like the Crips, and just like the Bloods, you’re culpable. Cos you joined the gang, man. And I don’t care if you never did shit or never saw shit or never heard shit. You joined the gang. You’re culpable. And when a person is culpable to altar-boy-fucking, or any-kinda-boy-fucking, I know you guys didn’t really narrow it down, then they kinda forfeit the right to come into my house and say a word about me, or my life, or my daughter, or my billboards.
    So, why don’t you just finish your tea there, Father, and get the fuck outta my kitchen.

    Way to go, Mildred!

  • StephenJP

    Great article, Barry; many thanks. It deserves to be more widely circulated.
    Frankie says he is sorry about the crimes committed by the priests he has appointed. He isn’t really. He’s just sorry they have been found out.
    The latest development in the St Ambrose scandal is timely, since Hinds is reported to support the disgraceful demand by the RCC to allow their schools to discriminate in favour of Catholic families in their admissions policies. Even some of his fellow Tories are advising him to go carefully. (Though why any non-Catholics might want to expose their offspring to a Catholic education beats me). His predecessor (Justine Greening) supported community cohesion, not segregation. Let’s hope she and others manage to rein him in.

  • tonye

    So one catholic body ‘Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE)’ investigates another catholic body.
    I’m sure the report will be unbiased and fair. Not.

  • Robster

    If Frank has a half a brain, and that debatable, he’d flee from his ‘orrible church facility, burn the silly hats and retire far far away to save mankind further angst.

  • barriejohn
  • andym