Associated Press via Washington Post
January 20, 2018
By Nicole Winfield
Pope Francis’ top adviser on clerical sex abuse implicitly rebuked the pontiff for having accused Chilean victims of slander, saying Saturday that his words were “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said he couldn’t explain why Francis “chose the particular words he used.” He said such expressions had the effect of abandoning victims and relegating them to “discredited exile.”
In an extraordinary effort at damage control, O’Malley insisted in a statement that Francis “fully recognizes the egregious failures of the church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones.”
Francis set off a national uproar upon leaving Chile on Thursday when he accused victims of the country’s most notorious pedophile priest of having slandered another bishop, Juan Barros. The victims say Barros knew of the abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima but did nothing to stop it — a charge Barros denies.
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