January 23, 2018
By Carol Kuruvilla
But the pope didn’t waver in his support for a controversial Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse.
Pope Francis partially apologized for last week’s brusque attack on victims of sex abuse by the clergy ― but he continued supporting a controversial Chilean bishop accused of protecting an abusive priest.
On board a papal flight from Peru to Rome late Sunday, the pontiff acknowledged to journalists that his demand to see “proof” that Bishop Juan Barros Madrid had been complicit in the abuse of minors could have hit victims like a “slap in the face.” He said he realized that his words on Thursday implied that victims’ accusations of sexual abuse are only credible with concrete evidence.
“To hear that the pope says to their face, ‘Bring me a letter with proof,’ is a slap in the face” that he didn’t intend, Francis said, according to The Associated Press.
Although he apologized for asking for “proof,” he suggested the testimony of victims against Barros is still not enough.
“I can’t condemn [Barros] because I don’t have evidence. But I’m also convinced that he’s innocent,” the pope said, according to AP.
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