NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times
January 19, 2018
By Pascale Bonnefoy and Austin Ramzy
Iago, Chile – A number of Chilean Catholics reacted with disappointment and anger on Friday, a day after Pope Francis spoke in defense of a bishop who they say protected a pedophile priest. The remarks, made on Thursday just before Francis left Chile for Peru, upended his efforts to rehabilitate the Catholic Church’s reputation while visiting South America.
Francis told reporters Thursday there was not a shred of evidence against Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who victims of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, Chile’s most notorious priest, have accused of being complicit in his crimes.
“The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,” Francis said before celebrating Mass outside the northern Chilean city of Iquique. “But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?”
The pope’s comments set off a storm in Chile, raising questions about his commitment to repairing the damage from sexual abuse scandals and improving the decline in the church’s image and following in the traditionally devout country.
Benito Baranda, coordinator of the pope’s visit to Chile, told a radio station in Santiago that Bishop Barros “should have ceased to be bishop a long time ago.” He added: “The damage he is inflicting on the church is big.”
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