January 23, 2018
By Rick Noack
It was supposed to be an apology tour, but Pope Francis’s Chile visit drew unexpected ire last week after the head of the Catholic Church came to the support of Juan Barros, a bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by a priest named Fernando Karadima. The remarks came at the end of a visit that was intended to ease tensions between the church and Karadima’s victims.
On Monday, the pope apologized for previous remarks in which he had demanded evidence from Barros’s accusers, now saying that his words must have come across as a “slap in the face” of victims.
Despite his self-criticism, the pope stood by Barros and also warned accusers that they may be found guilty of slander if they continued to make public statements without being able to provide evidence.
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