Will the Pope Address Sexual Abuse in the Chilean Church?

New York Times

January 12, 2018

By Ariel Dorfman

Santiago, Chile — On Monday, Pope Francis begins a four-day visit to Chile. For his trip to be successful, he must confront the scandalous sexual crimes of a vile Chilean priest, Fernando Karadima. Newspapers and television broadcasts in Santiago are filled with reports about Father Karadima’s abuse of minors and his impunity.

The allegations against Father Karadima were brought to the attention of the Chilean church in 2004. No inquiry was opened until the victims — after being pressured into silence for years — finally went public.

On Thursday morning, a poll on a Santiago radio station claimed that 90 percent of Chileans want the pope to meet the victims, ask for forgiveness and condemn Father Karadima. On Monday, victims abused by priests from several countries are meeting the Chilean victims to denounce the Vatican’s inadequate response to sexual abuse. And there is talk of protests during the papal visit.

I was 16 when I first encountered Father Karadima in 1958. He was a spiritual guide to fervently religious friends who attended the wealthy parish of El Bosque, over which he presided, a short bike ride away from my home in Santiago.

Though I was an atheist myself, of Jewish origin and left-wing ideas, I was intrigued by the awe in which my buddies held this 27-year-old priest they called saintly, the wisdom and solace they said he offered them, troubled as they were by the doubts and confusion of puberty. So when I received, to my surprise, an invitation to talk with the holy man, I did not hesitate to accept.

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