Pope Francis expressed his “pain and shame” over Chile’s sexual abuse scandal on Tuesday in his first feedback within the nation on a disaster that has scarred the Roman Catholic Church’s credibility.
Francis was making his first official tackle of the journey within the presence of President Michelle Bachelet, different Chilean officers and international diplomats.
“Here I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church,” he stated within the presidential palace, drawing sustained applause from his listeners.
“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,” he stated.
Catholics have been upset with Francis’ 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to move the small diocese of Osorno in south-central Chile. Barros has been accused of defending his former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima, whom a Vatican investigation discovered responsible in 2011 of abusing teenage boys over a few years. Karadima has denied the allegations and Barros stated he was unaware of any wrongdoing.
But the scandal has gripped Chile, and, together with rising secularization, has harm the standing of the Church that had been praised for defending human rights through the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.