Pope's zero tolerance for abusive priests faces test in Chile

Bishop Juan Barros

The Pope's appointment this month of a bishop in Chile who has been accused of covering up sexual abuse has caused an outcry among victims and Catholic faithful, reports AP in Crux.

Juan Carlos Cruz recalls that he and another teen boy would lie down on the priest’s bed, one resting his head at the man’s shoulder, another sitting near his feet. The priest would kiss the boys and grope them, he said,  while the Rev. Juan Barros watched.

“Barros was there, and he saw it all,” Cruz, now a 51-year-old journalist, told the Associated Press.

Bishop Barros has been tapped by Pope Francis to become bishop of a southern Chilean diocese this month, provoking an unprecedented outcry by abuse victims and Catholic faithful who contend he covered up sexual abuse committed by his mentor and superior, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, in the 1980s and 1990s.

A Vatican investigation found Karadima guilty in 2011 and sentenced the now 84-year-old priest to a cloistered life of “penitence and prayer” for what is Chile’s highest-profile case of abuse by a priest.

Bishop Barros had long declined to comment publicly on allegations against him. However, in a letter sent Monday to the priests of the diocese he’ll be overseeing, he said he did not know about Karadima’s abuses when they happened.

“I never had knowledge of, or could have imagined, the serious abuses that this priest committed against the victims,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the AP.

Now bishop for Chile’s armed forces, he has said he learned of Karadima’s abuse through a 2010 news report he saw on television, according to court records.

FULL STORY Pope's zero tolerance for pedophiles faces test in Chile

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