Chilean Bishops to Meet Pope After Sex Abuse Scandal

By Mei Manuel, May 14, 2018 04:05 AM


On Thursday, the Chilean Roman Catholic Church said that more than 30 bishops will be meeting Pope Francis from May 14 to 17 in Rome in an attempt to make amends for the damage caused by the sex abuse scandal that has caused many to question the Chilean clergy for decades.

Days before the meeting, Chile's Episcopal Conference, a group of bishops that leads the Church in the country, said in a statement that it felt the same "pain and embarrassment" expressed in April by Pope Francis after he met with the victims of Fernando Karadima, a former priest who was accused of pedophilia,

The conference said, "Pope Francis' embrace [of these victims] serves as an example for the Church as it confronts accusations of abuse of conscience, sexual abuse and any other abuse of power that may have occurred in our communities."

However, one of the key figures in the scandal, Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, a retired archbishop of Santiago who currently sits on the pope's kitchen cabinet, will not be attending for personal reasons according to La Tercera, Chile's paper.

Errazuriz and several higher Church officials have been accused of covering up the abuse committed by Karadima and saught to discredit the victims.

In 2011, a Vatican investigation found Karadima guilty of abusing boys in Santiago from the 1970s to the 1980s. However, he did not face civilian justice because of the existing statute of limitations on sex crimes.

This January, the Pope sent one of Vatican's top sexual abuse investigators, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, to New York and Chile to speak with the victims and the bishops. Scicluna produced a 2,300-page report which prompted the Pope to acknowledge he had made "grave mistakes" in handling the sexual abuse crisis in Chile and called the bishops to a meeting in Rome to discuss the issue.

Such meetings are rare and normally occurs when there is a great crisis in a national Church. In 2002, Pope John Paul II had also called a meeting of similar nature with American bishops when a sexual abuse crisis also rocked the United States.

Aside from the victims, Church leaders in Chile have also called for a drastic solution to the scandal, including the resignations and dismissals of involved individuals.

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