Pope admits to ‘grave errors’ in Chile abuse crisis

Pope Francis (Vatican News)

Pope Francis’ apology to Chilean sex abuse victims and his request that the country’s bishops come to Rome to discuss reforms amounts to a “spiritual state of emergency” in Chile, the Vatican said yesterday. Source: Crux.

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In an interview with The Associated Press, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Francis’ letter to the Chilean hierarchy was an acknowledgment that he had made mistakes about abuse victims and that “yes, we believe you, you have your place in the Church.”

In the letter on Wednesday, the Pope admitted he had made “grave errors” in evaluating the case of a bishop accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse. He invited the victims to Rome so he could personally apologise.

Francis blamed a lack of “truthful and balanced information” for his missteps in judging the case of Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile’s most notorious predator priest, Fr Fernando Karadima.

But Francis had plenty of factual information at his disposal that he apparently did not take into account: The executive committee of Chile’s bishops’ conference had recommended Bishop Barros resign and take a sabbatical. Members of Francis’ own sex abuse advisory commission had questioned Bishop Barros’ suitability to run a diocese. Francis himself received a personal letter from a victim in 2015 detailing Barros’ wrongdoing.

Asked about that previous information, Mr Burke said Francis receives a lot of information from a variety of sources and he has now read a 2300-page dossier prepared by two Vatican-mandated envoys.

“Let’s just say it’s very clear now the Pope has a complete picture of the situation,” Burke said.

In the letter, Francis announced he was summoning all 32 Chilean bishops to the Vatican for an emergency meeting to discuss short, medium and long-term changes in the local church.

The Vatican orders such emergency visits only on rare occasions, such as when American bishops were summoned in 2002 after the clerical sex abuse scandal and in 2010 when Irish bishops received a Vatican dressing down for their botched handling of abuse cases.

“He is sort of calling a spiritual state of emergency, which shows how seriously he takes the situation,” Burke said.

FULL STORY

Vatican: Pope Chile letter a “spiritual state of emergency” (Crux)

RELATED COVERAGE

Chile sex abuse: Pope Francis begs forgiveness for “serious mistakes” (Vatican News)

Pope admits mistakes in Chile abuse crisis (SBS News)

Pope Francis admits ‘serious errors’ in handling of Chilean sex abuse cases (America Magazine)

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