Chilean survivor of clergy sex abuse denies he is lying

National Catholic Reporter

January 24, 2018

By Heidi Schlumpf and Maria Benevento

Despite repeated accusations by Pope Francis that survivors of clergy sex abuse in Chile are guilty of “slander” and “calumny,” Juan Carlos Cruz is still speaking out about the abuse he suffered at the hands of a Chilean priest — and about the cover-up by church leaders there.

During his visit to Chile last week and on the papal plane Jan. 21, Pope Francis defended Bishop Juan Barros Madrid of Osorno, Chile, insisting there is no evidence the prelate ignored or covered up sexual abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima.

But Cruz told NCR Jan. 23 that he and other survivors testified — in criminal, civil and church proceedings — that while “the bigger abuse was behind closed doors,” Barros was in the room when Karadima touched the genitals and put his tongue in the mouth of Cruz and other victims.

“That’s what Barros saw,” said Cruz, who now lives in Wilmington, Delaware. “I don’t know if I should have taken a photograph for more evidence. What other evidence than our testimony, and that of so many others, do they need?”

He believes it is impossible that Barros and others did not see the abuse. “They were standing by me when things happened,” Cruz said. “If they want to say they saw nothing, that is an absolute lie.”

Cruz and other victims of Karadima have testified in court and in letters sent to church officials that Barros and other church officials — including bishops Andrés Arteaga, an auxiliary in Santiago, Tomislav Koljatic of Linares, Chile, and Horacio Valenzuela of Talca, Chile — knew of the abuse and covered it up.

The Chilean bishops have consistently denied witnessing any abuse by Karadima or participating in a cover up. Barros and Valenzuela denied the accusations most recently in an interview with, in a story published Jan. 17.

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