POPE FRANCIS SENDS LETTER TO THE CHILEAN BISHOPS
At the conclusion of three days of “fraternal” meetings, Pope Francis hands the following letter to the 34 Chilean bishops with whom he had closely examined the clerical sex abuse scandal that has tarnished the image of the Latin American Church in recent decades:
To the bishops of Chile:
Dear brothers in the episcopate,
I wish to thank you for having accepted my invitation so that, together, we may make a frank discernment regarding the serious events which have damaged the ecclesial communion and undermined the work of the Church in Chile in recent years.
In light of these painful incidents which concern abuse – of minors, power, and conscience – we exchanged views on their seriousness as well as on their tragic consequences, particularly for the victims. For each of them I have wholeheartedly asked for forgiveness, an action to which all of you have united in one will and with the firm intention of repairing the damage done.
I thank you for the total willingness each one of you has shown to join and collaborate in all the changes and resolutions that we will need to implement in the short-, medium-, and long-term in order to restore justice and ecclesial communion.
Following these days of prayer and reflection, I give you a mandate to continue building a prophetic Church capable of giving pride-of-place to what is most important: Service to the Lord in the hungry, the prisoner, the migrant, and the abused.
Please do not forget to pray for me.
May Jesus bless you and the Virgin Mary watch over you.
AP REPORTS: POPE SAYS CHILEAN HIERARCHY RESPONSIBLE FOR “GRAVE DEFECTS”
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has accused Chile’s bishops of destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring church lawyers to minimize accusations and of “grave negligence” in protecting children from pedophile priests.
In a devastating 10-page document delivered to Chilean bishops during a summit this week, Francis said the entire Chilean church hierarchy was collectively responsible for “grave defects” in handling abuse cases and the resulting loss of credibility that the Catholic Church has earned.
The document, reported by Chile’s T13 television and confirmed as authentic Friday by the Vatican, puts mounting pressure on the bishops as a whole to resign given Francis told them that “no one can exempt himself and place the problem on the shoulders of the others.”
The bishops are due to hold a news conference in Rome later Friday.
FROM TELESUR: 4 CHILEAN BISHOPS RESIGN, 10 PENDING
Four of Chile’s bishops have resigned in connection with the child sex abuse scandal engulfing the country’s Catholic church as the emergency Vatican session overseen by Pope Francis comes to a close.
Bishops Juan Barros, Tomislov Koljatic, Horacio Valenzuela and Monsignor Andres Arteaga renounced their episcopal duties under pressure over their roles in covering up Father Fernando Karadima’s paedophilia, Clarin reports.
The bishops have so far maintained a stoic silence, but the Catholic church in Chile has confirmed they will comply with the pope’s final decision.
In a letter to the Chilean monsignors, Pope Francis said he had some “changes and resolutions” planned for the Catholic church as a result of the emergency sessions, which began May 15.
“In the light of these painful events regarding abuses – of minors, of power and of conscience – we have realized the gravity of situation, as well as the tragic consequences that particularly victims have suffered,” Pope Francis wrote, noting that seven additional bishops are likely to be removed as a means to re-establish confidence in the church.
“I want to thank you for accepting the invitation so that, together, we could make a frank discernment about the serious events that have damaged the ecclesial communion and weakened the work of the Church of Chile in recent years,” the pontiff said.
Though Karadima has never been prosecuted in a criminal court, a Vatican investigation into allegations of his abuse of minors concluded that he was guilty and he was then expelled by the church.
His main accusers – Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo – testified against Barros, saying that he enabled Karadima’s abuse. In 2015, Cruz penned a handwritten letter directly to the pope detailing Barros’ complicity.
Barros said he offered his resignation on three separate occasions, but it was rejected each time for lack of evidence.
According to Santiago Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez, the resignations of at least 10 Chilean bishops are still pending.