Clerical abuse: sour start to Pope's Chile visit ends in fury

Clerical abuse: sour start to Pope's Chile visit ends in fury January 21, 2018

After commiserating with abuse survivors in Chile, Pope Francis – to the astonishment and fury of many – then accused them of slandering Bishop Juan Barros just before he left the country this week.

Chileans have no doubt that Barros, pictured above in 2015 being targeted by protesters, covered up the activities of Chile’s most notorious Catholic paedophile, the Reverend Fernando Karadimas.
But, according to this report, before leaving Chile where he received a less than enthusiastic welcome the Pope said:

The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak. There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?

This shocked Chileans and brought an immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates.
They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011.

Chilean Deputy Fidel Espinoza, right, and citizens pictured protesting when Bishop Juan Barros attended his first religious service at the Osorno cathedral, south of Santiago, in 2015. Photo. Reuters/Carlos Gutierrez.
A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes was not lacking.
Anne Barrett Doyle, of the online database, said it was “sad and wrong” for the pope to discredit the victims since:

The burden of proof here rests with the church, not the victims – and especially not with victims whose veracity has already been affirmed. He has just turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis. Who knows how many victims now will decide to stay hidden, for fear they will not be believed?

Patricio Navia, political science professor at Diego Portales University in Santiago, said Francis had gone much further than Chilean bishops in acknowledging the sexual abuse scandal, which many Chileans appreciated.

Then right before leaving, Francis turns around and says: ‘By the way, I don’t think Barros is guilty. Show me some proof’.

Navia added that the comment will probably erase any goodwill the pope had won over the issue.

The Pope’s top adviser on clerical sex abuse, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, above, the archbishop of Boston, also rebuked the pontiff over his accusations of slander, saying that Francis’ words were

A source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse.

O’Malley, who headed Francis’ much-touted committee for the protection of minors, said he could not explain why Francis “chose the particular words he used”.
In an effort at damage control, O’Malley insisted that Francis:

Fully recognises the egregious failures of the church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones.

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  • AgentCormac

    And so the papal mask slides to reveal the true nature of the man. Here Frankie has shown he is no better than his predecessors – he will dig in and defend the vile, corrupt organisation he heads even if it means being in denial of reality and the truth. Calumny? My arse!

  • Broga

    Papa says what he thinks will enhance his phony image of a caring, concerned and realistic Pope. Sometimes, the leopard’s spots (sorry leopards) just keep showing.

  • andym

    They’re in the shit and it’s showing. I don’t like him, but Francis has shown himself to be a PR master. If his mask is slipping , then they’re desperate. Rightly so. South America is a stronghold , as well as a major wealth source for them . They can’t afford to lose it, but it seems they’re worrying that they might.

  • Steve

    I hate to say it,but generallyou the burden of proof IS with the accuser.
    5 hough still funny to hear a pope demand proof….

  • andym

    But that’s not the point. This started out as a PR rescue mission , all smoothness and hand-wringing. If then you suddenly turn round and make accusations of slander, it shows it hasn’t gone according to plan. This is Frankie’s back yard and he’s rattled.

  • Farmer Giles

    AgentCormac … please mind your arse … there may be a catholic behind you!!!

  • Farmer Giles

    Name the crime and the RCC is guilty of it.

  • Farmer Giles

    Why was the current pope selected from all the rest?
    One reason may be that the other cardinals in the running did not want the position of pope … too much shit flying around.
    Ratzinger looked like a nasty bastard … he could look really sinister and threatening. Frankie though would find it very hard to look like a hard man. He looks like a big soppy goofy softie and hence has the appearance of sincerity based upon his innocent looks. But make no mistake … he might look fluffy and cuddy but he is as nasty as his predecessor.
    Lets hope he caves into the pressure just as Ratzinger did.

  • L.Long

    Hey! People! If you don’t like the pope’s reaction…fucking quit the damn RCC!!!! The RCC cobal is all about protection of their power and money, you are nothing but a deluded money supplier!
    ALL religions are evil & ALL preachers are LIARS!!! Deal with it! But then most of you are more terrified of reality then your are of preachers!

  • StephenJP

    Farmer Giles, you may be on to something. The CofE has for some time oscillated between conservative scholars and happy-clappy evangelists. Neither strategy has worked: membership has carried on down the pan. The rigid Pope Bennie was hardly a howling success; but Frankie’s attempt at populism hasn’t worked either. And now the mask is slipping…

  • barriejohn

    The cardinals were well aware of the need for positive PR when choosing the new pope; it’s a political appointment.

  • sowa

    Bergoglio shows his true colours when usual hot air fails. I just hope that people won’t forget about it soon, like they usually do.

  • andym

    He’s apologised (without changing his position.)
    If a Pope can apologise for his own actions, is the concept of Papal Infallibility officially redundant?

  • Broga

    andym: I thought they were only infallible on matters of faith and morals. Seems to me you can’t get more of a moral issue than that concerning the sexual abuse of boys.

  • Robster

    Perhaps silly old pope Frank needs a better sleep, or a brain, or morality training or eyes?

  • StephenJP

    @andym/Broga: I think they get to say which of their pronouncements are infallible, and which are just a point of view. E.g. Mary’s Immaculate Conception (Pope Pius IX, 1854); her Immaculate Assumption (Pius XII, 1950); and all the rest of the Mariolatran superstition. I’m sure Frankie’s “apology” is just a personal point of view. After all, he hasn’t actually done anything to atone, or give recompense, for anything that he, or his predecessors, or their creatures, have done.

  • andym

    He seems to have realised it won’t go away.
    If he is anxious to find the truth, he does have the wealth to instigate a more credible independent/lay investigation,but he hasn’t.

  • andym
  • Broga

    We watched the film “Calvary” yesterday evening. Based in Ireland and made in Ireland. The priests took a hammering and many of the comments were focussed on sexual child abuse including the physical description by a boy of his suffering.
    Indeed, the issue is not going away.

  • andym

    It gets even worse for the Soapy One. The evidence he claims never to have seen now appears to have been handed to him in a letter 2015. The PR maestro appears to have fouled up.The Vatican might have to hang out another Pope to dry.