NEW YORK (NY)
Wall Street Journal
January 16, 2018
By Ryan Dube and Francis X. Rocca
Osorno, Chile and Vatican City – Pope Francis’ visit this week renews protests from victims of influential Santiago priest.
Pope Francis ’ three-day visit to Chile will draw attention to what activists describe as one of the most conspicuous weaknesses of his nearly five-year-old pontificate: his failure to take enough action to protect children from clerical sex abuse and punish priests for perpetrating it.
When the Argentine pope arrives in Santiago Monday to begin his sixth visit to Latin America, he will set down in a traditionally Catholic country where revelations of clerical sex abuse have damaged the image of the church, and where the pope’s handling of the problem has drawn particular criticism.
“His record is a disaster,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean sex-abuse victim and an organizer of protests planned for the pope’s visit. “People are absolutely disgusted with the way he’s handled abuse and how he’s treated us.”
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After a Vatican inquiry concluded in 2011 that Fr. Karadima was guilty of abusing minors, he was ordered to a life of prayer and penitence.
Accusations of abuse were also lodged that year with civil authorities. A Chilean court declined to prosecute the case, citing a statute of limitations that put allegations dating back to 1980 outside the law’s reach.
Fernando Karadima being escorted from a Santiago court in 2015 after testifying in a case brought by three victims of sexual abuse.
Fr. Karadima is still living in the capital, according to a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Santiago. Attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful. In a 2015 court appearance in Santiago, he insisted on his innocence of all sex-abuse charges.
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Mario Vargas, a spokesman for the Lay Organization in Osorno, which has led efforts to have Bishop Barros removed from the diocese, said the group plans to demonstrate during Pope Francis’ visit to Santiago. The group has asked for a meeting with the pope during his visit to the capital, as has a group of Fr. Karadima’s victims. The Vatican spokesman said Thursday no meeting with victims was scheduled but didn’t rule one out.
Joining protesters in Santiago will be a former member of the Vatican’s commission for the protection of minors, Peter Saunders, who resigned from the body last month after extensively criticizing Pope Francis, including for his appointment of Bishop Barros.
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