January 18, 2018
By Jane Onyanga-Omara
Pope Francis has accused victims of a pedophile priest of slandering a bishop by accusing him of a cover-up of the priest’s actions.
The pope’s remarks in Chile Thursday marked a shocking end to a trip aimed at healing historic wounds from sexual abuse by priests in the country.
Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros were defamatory.
“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak,” Francis said after a Chilean journalist asked him about Barros. “There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”
The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their supporters. They said the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011.
A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.
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