Pope begs forgiveness over Catholic paedophile scandal

  • Pope begs forgiveness over Catholic paedophile scandal

Pope begs forgiveness over Catholic paedophile scandal

THE Pope has pleaded for forgiveness and admitted to making "grave errors" in Chile's sex abuse scandal.

However, speaking to reporters, he pledged his support for Bishop Barros and said: "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak".

In a letter to the South American country's bishops, Francis said he felt "sadness and shame" over comments earlier this year in which he accused the victims of committing slander.

The Pope told the bishops he wanted to discuss Scicluna's findings with the victims and asked for their co-operation in order to re-establish serenity in Chile's Catholic churches and "repair the scandal as much as possible and re-establish justice".

Silva said the meeting of Chilean bishops with the pope in Rome would take place on the third week of May.

During a trip to Chile in January, the pontiff had strongly defended Barros, who appeared at public masses celebrated by the Pope in three different Chilean cities, causing a public outcry.

Karadima, an influential Chilean priest, was convicted by the Vatican in 2011 of abusing teenage boys and sentenced to a life of penitence.

Protesters and victims said Bishop Barros is guilty of protecting Father Karadima and was physically present while some of the abuse was going on.

Pope Francis apologised for rubbishing the claims, victims of Chile's predator priest, Reverand Fernando Karadima, had made.

The comment prompted uproar from Barros' critics, several of whom are victims of Karadima's abuse.

The bishops, he said, shared in the Pope's pain.

In a conversation with journalists on the way back to Rome, Pope Francis apologized, but said there was no evidence condemning Barros, and that so far, no victims had come forward. Then the Pope dispatched Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican's top sexual crimes investigator, to Chile and NY to interview victims.

Members of the commission confirmed the news, and said the commission's head, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, had indeed handed the letter to Pope Francis, raising the question of whether the pope actually read the letter.

Scicluna and his colleague, Reverand Jordi Bertomeu, spent almost two weeks interviewing Karadima's victims. The archbishop also had 10 years of experience as the Vatican's chief prosecutor of clerical sex abuse cases at the doctrinal congregation.

In his letter to Chile's bishops, Pope Francis said now is an "opportune" time to "put the Church of Chile in a state of prayer".

"We have not done enough", he said in a statement.

"Let us look at his life and gestures, especially when he shows compassion and mercy to those who have erred".