On June 2, 2018, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Saint Martha’s with Chilean priests, victims of abuse of power, abuse of conscience and sexual abuse, stated a press release of the Holy See Press Office.
According to the statement which announced the meetings, the object of the meetings, called by the Pope from June 1-3, was to “reflect further on the reality lived by part of the faithful and of the Chilean clergy. With the help of five priests, the Holy Father seeks to mend the internal rupture of the community. Thus it will be possible to begin to reconstruct a healthy relationship between the faithful and their Pastors, once all are aware of their wounds.”
In a letter, written two days earlier, Pope Francis exhorted the Chilean Church to change radically to fight against the “culture of abuse.” “The cry of the victims has reached Heaven,” he wrote, saddened that “we didn’t listen and act in time.” “Never again,” he stressed in his message, which condemns the “atrocities” committed.
The letter and the new meeting took place in the framework of the endeavor of truth undertaking with the inquiry of the Pope’s special envoy, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, President of the Special College of Appeal in the case of sexual abuse on minors on the part of clerics, which is within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the case of Monsignor Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, Bishop of Osorno, accused by the laity of his diocese of being aware of the sexual abuses committed by his former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima.
Initially, during his recent trip to Chile and Peru (January 16-21), the Pontiff defended Bishop Barros. Acknowledging, at the end of the inquiry, “the grave errors in the evaluation and perception of the situation, given, notably, the lack of truthful and balanced information, the Pope asked for pardon, received three victims of abuse on April 25, and convoked the country’s Bishops. The latter took part in three days of reflection at the Vatican, at the end of which they handed the Pope their resignations, to express their willingness to remedy the system that made possible the covering-up of abuses.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu must go again to Chile in the forthcoming days on mission in the diocese of Osorno.