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Pope Francis meeting Chilean bishops in Santiago, Chile on January 16, 2018. Pope Francis meeting Chilean bishops in Santiago, Chile on January 16, 2018.   (Vatican Media)

Pope meeting Chilean bishops next week on sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis is meeting the bishops Chile May 15 to 17, to closely examine the clerical sex abuse scandal that has tarnished the image of the Latin American Church in recent decades.

By Robin Gomes

The Holy See’s Press Office released a statement on Saturday saying Pope Francis is meeting the bishops of Chile, May 15-17, to examine in depth the causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that have led in some cases to the concealment and serious omissions against the victims of sexual abuse in Chile.

The Holy Father will share his personal conclusions following a 2-member fact-finding mission to Chile headed by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, and the numerous written and oral testimonies that the Pope has been receiving in recent weeks.

Adequate lasting changes

The Pope, accompanied by Cardinal Marc Ouellet the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, will hold meetings with the 33 bishops of Chile, including two retired ones.  “The objective of this long 'synodal process' is to discern together, in the presence of God, the responsibility of each and every one of us for these devastating wounds, and to study adequate and lasting changes that will prevent the repetition of these ever reprehensible acts,” explained the Holy See’s Press Office.

“It is fundamental to restore trust in the Church through good pastors who by their lives bear witness to having known the voice of the Good Shepherd and who know how to accompany the suffering of the victims and work in a resolute and tireless way in the prevention of abuse.”

While thanking the bishops for their docility and humility to the Holy Spirit, the Vatican said the Pope is renewing his request to the People of God in Chile to continue praying for the conversion of all.  

The meeting will be strictly private and no papal declaration is expected during and after the meeting.

Pope meets abuse victims

On April 27, Pope Francis met in the Vatican three victims of abuse by the Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.  The Holy See Press Office explained that the Pope’s "priority" was to "listen to the victims, ask their forgiveness and respect the confidentiality of these talks". The intention was to create a "climate of trust and reparation for suffering."

Pope admits making mistake

Earlier on April 8, in a moving letter to the Chilean bishops, following the fact-finding mission by Archbishop Scicluna, the Pope admitted having made “serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially due to the lack of truthful and balanced information,” regarding the clerical sex abuse in Chile.

Pope Francis was publicly criticized for his handling of the case of Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused of covering up, and even participating in the abuse of men and boys by the priest.

In the letter, the Holy Father had called the bishops of Chile to Rome for discussion on the issue.

12 May 2018, 15:20