Pope Apologizes to Sex Victims for "Grave Errors"
Pope Francis sparked controversy during his visit to Chile in January with his comments on the recent Chilean church sex abuse scandal. While abuse survivors had long claimed Bishop Juan Barros was responsible for witnessing and covering up the abuse of his mentor, Reverend Fernando Karadima, Francis continued to defend Barros.
"There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is slander,” Francis had controversially stated.
Chileans were immediately outraged by Francis' remarks, while the Catholic Church, received heavy criticism and rebuke from around the world. The incident further undermined the Church’s already tremulous reputation.
Karadima’s victims had reported the priest to Church authorities as early as 2002 but were met with skepticism until they went public with their accusations in 2010.
The Vatican then launched an official investigation into Karadima. He was sentenced to a “lifetime of penance and prayer.”
Following his visit in January, Francis sent Archbishop Charles Scicluna to Chile to further investigate the allegations that a cover-up had taken place under the Vatican’s watch. Over 64 testimonies were taken during the investigation according to The New York Times.
Their graphic accounts and evidentiary support that Francis had been seeking prompted him to write a public letter to the bishops of Chile, in which he apologized for his “grave errors.”
“As far as my role, I acknowledge, and ask you to convey faithfully, that I have made grave errors in assessment and perception of the situation, especially as a result of lack of information that was truthful and balanced,” he wrote.
Francis concluded the letter by writing: “I assure you of my prayers and I want to share with you the conviction that the present difficulties are also an occasion to re-establish the trust in the church, broken by our mistakes and sins, and to heal wounds that haven’t stopped bleeding in Chilean society.”
The Pope has since invited several of the victims to Rome in order to beg their forgiveness and “repair the scandal as much as possible.”