The pope is defending a bishop accused of witnessing abuse. What do his words mean to survivors?

PBS Newshour

January 23, 2018

[Includes video]

Pope Francis came under fire during a trip to Chile for defending a bishop accused of directly witnessing and covering up sexual abuse by another church figure, dating back to the 1980s. While the pope apologized for his wording, he stands by the bishop. Lisa Desjardins talks with Anne Barrett Doyle of about what the pontiff’s words mean to victims and other Catholics.

Judy Woodruff:

The pope just concluded a trip to Chile this weekend, aimed at healing some of the after-effects of sexual abuse committed there.

But his remarks during that trip, and on his return from it, about the role of a bishop in a scandal there have raised questions.

Lisa Desjardins looks at the pope’s pledges to change the church’s actions and attitude.

Lisa Desjardins:

The cases in Chile date back to the 1980s and a well-connected priest found to be a pedophile, the Reverend Fernando Karadima.

Both the Vatican and a Chilean judge concluded those accusations were credible. The church defrocked him.

Why this matters now? Karadima was a longtime mentor to a current bishop, Juan Barros Madrid. He is accused of covering up and witnessing the abuse.

While in Chile to apologize for abuse by other priests, Pope Francis defended this bishop, saying there is not one shred of evidence against him.

That set off a firestorm. The pope apologized for his wording yesterday, but he also stood by the bishop.

Anne Barrett Doyle is the co-director of the watchdog group and web site And she joins me now.

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