Pope Francis admits 'grave errors' in Chile sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

While the pope's letter doesn't reveal his ultimate conclusions about Barros, Francis made clear he and the bishops had a lot of work to do to turn the church around.

He told Chilean bishops in a letter that he would apologise to each victim in person.

Francis made the admission in a letter sent to Chilean bishops that was published online Wednesday.

After hugging Bishop Barros publicly during his visit, he called the accusations...

In April 2002, 12 US cardinals and the president and vice-president of the bishops' conference met in Rome to lay the groundwork for the assembly of the USA bishops that took place later that year in Dallas, during which the policies on how to deal with child sexual abuse allegations against priests were drafted.

The meeting, Francis wrote, will be a "fraternal moment, without prejudice or preconceived ideas, with the sole objective of making the truth shine in our lives".

In addition, he summoned all of Chile's 32 bishops to Rome to discuss the conclusions of Archbishop Scicluna's report in the third week of May, where they will discussion the conclusions of the report as well the Pope's own conclusions on the matter.

Archbishop Scicluna and Father Bertomeu, the Pope said, were overwhelmed by the "maturity, respect and kindness" of the victims who testified.

A 2,300-page report sent to the pope includes testimony gathered from 64 people in NY and Santiago.

The Catholic Church in the South American country had been bracing for revelations in the letter.

"The present difficulties are also an opportunity to restore confidence in the Church, a confidence broken by our mistakes and sins", Francis wrote.

He asked the bishops to "faithfully communicate" this recognition, and he apologized to all those he might have offended.

The unveiling of Francis's letter took place in Chile at a press conference, headed by Bishops Santiago Silva and Fernando Ramos, president and secretary general of the Chilean bishops' conference.

However, throughout his visit, protesters held signs across the path of the popemobile, accusing Barros of a cover-up. There is not a single piece of evidence against him.

Scicluna and his colleague, the Rev. Jordi Bertomeu, spent fourteen days at Chile and NY before this year interviewing Karadima's sufferers, who for a long time now have denounced Barros' silence and were stunned by Francis' robust defense of him throughout his January trip to Chile.

A number of men have accused Barros of protecting his former mentor, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing them and others when they were boys.

Despite the protests, Bishop Barros has maintained his innocence, saying he didn't know the abuse was happening.

However, less than one week after the decision to send Archbishop Scicluna to Chile was announced, one of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, said in an interview with The Associated Press that in 2015 he had sent a letter to the Pope through the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, alleging that Bishop Barros had seen Karadima's abuse and had at times participated.

Pope Francis drew the ire of Chilean abuse victims and their allies during a trip to Chile in January.

The pope's words in Chile drew harsh criticism from survivors' groups.

They also said that mistakes by the hierarchy of the Chilean Church has affected many.

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