KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter
January 20, 2018
By Josh McElwee
Trujillo, Peru – Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, one of Pope Francis’ key advisors on clergy sexual abuse, acknowledged Jan. 20 that the pontiff’s defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse was “a source of great pain” for survivors.
In an unusually blunt statement from a church prelate in response to a controversial action of a pope, the cardinal also said that expressions of doubt about survivors’ testimony “abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity.”
O’Malley is responding to Francis’ defense of Osorno, Chile Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who is accused of not reporting abuse perpetrated by a fellow priest in the 1980s and ’90s.
Questioned Jan. 18 by reporters about Barros during a visit to Chile, the pontiff called the charges “calumny” and said: “There is not one piece of evidence against him.”
Francis’ words enraged the abuse survivor community and many Chilean Catholics, as three survivors have testified that Barros witnessed Fr. Fernando Karadima abusing them. Abuse tracking website BishopAccountability.org said the pope had “turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis.”
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