During his visit in Chile, Pope Francis insisted accusations that Bishop Juan Barros covered up a sexual abuse scandal were a calumny, since “There is not one shred of proof against him.”
It turns out that Francis (emphasis added)
received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it, contradicting the pope’s recent insistence that no victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up, the letter’s author and members of Francis’ own sex- abuse commission have told The Associated Press.
Background from the AP report:
The Barros affair first caused shockwaves in January 2015 when Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno, Chile, over the objections of the leadership of Chile’s bishops’ conference and many local priests and laity. They accepted as credible the testimony against [Rev. Fernando] Karadima, a prominent Chilean cleric who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for abusing minors. Barros was a Karadima protege, and according to [Juan Carlos] Cruz and other victims, he witnessed the abuse and did nothing.
“Holy Father, I write you this letter because I’m tired of fighting, of crying and suffering,” Cruz wrote in Francis’ native Spanish. “Our story is well known and there’s no need to repeat it, except to tell you of the horror of having lived this abuse and how I wanted to kill myself.”
Cruz and other survivors had for years denounced the cover-up of Karadima’s crimes, but were dismissed as liars by the Chilean church hierarchy and the Vatican’s own ambassador in Santiago, who refused their repeated requests to meet before and after Barros was appointed
Barros allegedly was not simply covering up, but directly involved,
“More difficult and tough was when we were in Karadima’s room and Juan Barros — if he wasn’t kissing Karadima — would watch when Karadima would touch us — the minors — and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth near mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his out and kiss us with his tongue,” Cruz told the pope. “Juan Barros was a witness to all this innumerable times, not just with me but with others as well.”
Cruz gave the eight page letter to Cardinal O’Malley, who later assured him that he personally delivered the letter to Francis. On January 21, 2018, Francis insisted,
“No one has come forward, they haven’t provided any evidence for a judgment. This is all a bit vague, it’s something that can’t be accepted. You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.”
Pope Francis sent an envoy to Chile to investigate sexual abuse claims shortly after apologizing for his remarks.
This does not bode well for the Catholic Church’s moral authority, or for the papacy.