Pope Francis has met a small group of victims of sexual abuse by clergymen throughout his go to to Chile, praying and weeping with them, the Vatican stated in a press release.
The group met the pope for a “strictly private” assembly on Tuesday within the capital Santiago de Chile.
The privateness meant the victims may inform Francis about their struggling, the assertion stated. He listened to victims, prayed with them and wept with them.
Earlier on Tuesday, the pontiff apologized for sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, saying he felt “pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children” and calling such circumstances “a great and painful evil.”
“I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again,” the pope stated in a speech to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, her successor-to-be Sebastian Pinera and different dignitaries.
Tuesday was the primary full day of the pope’s sixth go to to Latin America, which will even take him to Peru till Sunday.
At a gathering with clergymen later within the day, Francis advised them circumstances of abuse had been painful “because of the harm and sufferings of the victims and their families, who saw the trust they had placed in the church’s ministers betrayed.”
He stated they had been additionally painful for clergymen and different church representatives, who confronted “suspicion and questioning” and even insults.
“For this reason,” the pope stated, “I suggest that we ask God to grant us the clear-sightedness to call reality by its name, the strength to seek forgiveness.”
“I think too many abuses were committed for too long. It is a good sign that the pope recognizes it,” stated Pinera, who will succeed Bachelet in March.
Police in the meantime used water cannon and tear fuel to disperse an illustration protesting sexual abuse scandals and a democracy that stored individuals in poverty. About 20 individuals had been detained, native media reported.
Two church buildings in the meantime had been burned down in Cunco within the south, based on Radio Cooperativa. Another church was attacked with a firebomb in Santiago de Chile, the place the attackers reportedly burned Chilean and Vatican flags and left anarchist leaflets.
Six church buildings or parishes had already been attacked previous to Francis’ arrival.
Chile is the Latin American nation the place the pope is least favored, receiving an approval score of 5.three out of 10, based on the pollster Latinobarometro.
His lack of approval is essentially attributed to a string of sexual abuse scandals.
Francis was criticized for his 2015 appointment of Juan Barros as bishop of Osorno, Chile. It is alleged that Barros protected priest Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican discovered responsible of kid abuse in 2011.
Barros’ presence at a Mass celebrated by the pope on Tuesday sparked criticism on social media. Dozens of demonstrators additionally urged Francis to sack the bishop.
Juan Carlos Cruz, one in all Karadima’s victims, referred to as the pope’s apology “another cheap headline.”
“Bishops who covered up [abuse] are still there. Empty words,” he tweeted.
The Vatican has in the meantime tried to mitigate the repercussions of one other sexual abuse scandal in Peru, asserting final week that it was taking on the Catholic motion Sodalicio. Peruvian prosecutors wish to arrest its founder for alleged abuses.
At the Mass following the assembly with Bachelet, Francis urged Catholics to have religion “in the transforming power of God” as a substitute of ignoring social issues and “dulling our senses with consumerism.”
The O’Higgins Park, the place the Mass was held, was stuffed with some 400,000 believers waving yellow-and-white Vatican flags.
“I feel a very great joy and happiness. … My Catholic faith is stronger than ever,” stated Sandra, a trainer.
“This visit gives us hope and joy in being Catholics. Today Chile is a very different, more diverse country, but also with less faith,” stated Francisco, 22.
The pope and Bachelet later visited a girls’s jail, the place Francis confused the significance of motherhood.
“Motherhood is not, and never will be a problem,” stated the pinnacle of the Catholic Church, which has criticized Bachelet’s authorities for enjoyable abortion laws.
The pope additionally criticized the penitentiary system, saying that “a jail sentence is very often simply a punishment, offering no opportunities for personal growth.”(dpa/NAN)