Calling it calumny, the Pope angrily responded to questions about his defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up for a priest who abused children. The “show me proof” comment came just days after he was photographed praying and crying with the family members of priest abuse.
Many Chileans are still furious at Francis’ decision to appoint Bishop Juan Barros as the bishop of the southern city of Osorno. Barros was a protégé of the country’s most notorious pedophile priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima.
Karadima was barred in 2011 from all pastoral duties and sentenced by the Vatican to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for sexually molesting minors.
And yet, the Pope makes this tone deaf statement to the press? How can he one the one hand condemn child sexual abuse and on the other defend a bishop who clearly covered up for a once popular and charismatic priest? Well, Francis is a Jesuit after all and accustomed to double-speak and nuance veiled in bullshit.
“As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all,” tweeted Barros’ most vocal accuser, Juan Carlos Cruz. “These people are truly crazy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty.”
The Karadima scandal dominated Francis’ visit to Chile and the overall issue of sex abuse and church cover-up was likely to factor into his three-day trip to Peru that began late Thursday.
Karadima’s victims reported to church authorities as early as 2002 that he would kiss and fondle them in the swank Santiago parish he ran, but officials refused to believe them. Only when the victims went public with their accusations in 2010 did the Vatican launch an investigation that led to Karadima being removed from ministry.
The emeritus archbishop of Santiago subsequently apologized for having refused to believe the victims from the start.
Francis reopened the wounds of the scandal in 2015 when he named Barros, a protege of Karadima, as bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno. Karadima’s victims say Barros knew of the abuse, having seen it, but did nothing. Barros has denied the allegations.
Maybe the victim who called the Pope crazy is onto something. Any first year public relations professional would have counseled Francis to avoid making such an inflammatory statement that has no basis in fact. How can he ask for “proof” when these dirty, criminal deeds are done in darkness and secret? This pope is a hypocrite!