In a letter to the bishops of Chile, Pope Francis apologised for underestimating the seriousness of the sexual abuse crisis in the country following a recent investigation into allegations concerning Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno.
The pope said he made ‘serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information’.
‘I ask forgiveness of all those I have offended and I hope to be able to do it personally in the coming weeks,’ the pope said in the letter, which was released by the Vatican on 11th April 11. Several survivors apparently have been invited to the Vatican to meet the pope.
Abuse victims alleged that Bishop Barros – then a priest – had witnessed their abuse by his mentor, Fr Fernando Karadima. In 2011, Fr Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys. Fr Karadima denied the charges; he was not prosecuted civilly because the statute of limitations had run out.
Protesters and victims said Bishop Barros is guilty of protecting Fr Karadima and was physically present while some of the abuse was going on.
During his visit to Chile in January, Pope Francis asked forgiveness for the sexual abuses committed by some priests in Chile.
“I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some of the ministers of the Church,” he said.
Picture: In a letter to Chilean bishops, Pope Francis says he hopes to meet with Chilean sex abuse victims. ‘I apologise to all those who I have offended,’ he said. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).