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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Vatican team returns to Chile to ‘ask forgiveness’ for clergy sex abuse

Arriving on his second visit to Chile, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta said his mission to the country is a sign of Pope Francis’ closeness to the local Church following devastating reports of sexual abuse and cover-ups by members of the clergy.

Speaking to journalists in Santiago on 12th June, the archbishop said his team’s pastoral mission includes providing “concrete technical and legal assistance to the dioceses in Chile so they may give adequate responses to each case of sexual abuse of minors committed by clergy or religious.”

Archbishop Scicluna, president of a board of review handling abuse cases within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Fr Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, an official of the doctrinal congregation, visited Santiago from 12th to 13th June before going to Osorno from 14th to 17th June.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of 61-year-old Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Chile, and two other Chilean bishops on 11th June. Bishop Barros’ appointment as head of the Diocese of Osorno in January 2015 sparked protest because of the bishop’s connection to Fr Fernando Karadima, his former mentor. Fr Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

Several of Fr Karadima’s victims alleged that Bishop Barros – then a priest – was present when the abuse occurred.

Picture: Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta speaks during a press conference in Santiago, Chile, on 12th June. He is accompanied by Fr Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, right, an official of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation. (CNS photo/Alberto Valdes, EPA).