Pope Francis begins meetings with Chilean clerical abuse victims
Hannah Brockhaus June 2, 2018
Pope Francis begins his second set of meetings with victims of Fr. Fernando Karadima, a Chilean priest who committed sexual abuse, as well as abuse of power and conscience, at the Vatican Saturday afternoon.
At 4:00 p.m. June 2, according to the Holy See press office, Pope Francis will say Mass with the group of priests, who are guests at the Vatican's Santa Marta guesthouse June 1-3.
The scheduled group and individual meetings with the pope will begin following the Mass.
The group of nine includes five priests who were victims of abuse of power, conscience, and sexuality; two priests who have been assisting the victims; and two lay people.
The reason the meeting was called by Pope Francis, the Holy See press office stated, "is to deepen the reality experienced by a part of the faithful and the Chilean clergy."
"With the help of these five priests, the Pope seeks to remedy the internal rupture of the community. In this way we can begin to rebuild a healthy relationship between the faithful and their pastors, once everyone becomes aware of their wounds."
Most of those coming to the Vatican participated in Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta's investigation of abuse cover-up by the hierarchy in Chile, whick took place in February. The others worked with the investigation after the archbishop's time in Chile.
The meeting will conclude the pope's first round of meetings with the victims of abuses which occurred at Karadima's Sacred Heart parish in Santiago.
“These priests and lay people represent all the victims of abuses by clerics in Chile, but it is not ruled out that similar initiatives may be repeated in the future," stated a May 22 press release announcing the meeting.
“The Holy Father continues to ask the faithful of Chile – and especially the faithful of the parishes where these priests carry out their pastoral ministry – to accompany them with prayer and solidarity during these days.”
Francis had met with three more of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton, and Andres Murillo, at the Vatican April 27-30.
Karadima was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011 of abusing minors, and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. He has not been sentenced by civil courts because of Chile's statue of limitations.
A sacerdotal association which Karadima had led, the Priestly Union of the Sacred Heart, was suppressed within a year of his conviction.
Attention to Karadima's abuse has heightened since the 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to the Diocese of Osorno. Barros had been accused of covering up Karadima's abuses.
Pope Francis initially defended Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop's guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January. He later relented, and sent Scicluna to investigate the situation in Chile.
After receiving Scicluna's report, Francis apologized, said that he had been seriously mistaken, and asked to meet the country's bishops and more outspoken survivors in person.
He met with Chile's bishops May 15-17. As a result, each of them tendered letters of resignation, which Pope Francis has yet to accept or reject. The pope also gave the bishops a lettter chastising them for systemic cover-up of clerical abuse and calling them to institute deep changes.
On May 19, Bishop Alejandro Goić Karmelić of Rancagua suspended several priests after allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against them. He also apologized for not following up when the accusations were first brought to his attention.
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