In letter to Chileans, Francis decries church’s ‘culture of abuse and cover-up’

National Catholic Reporter

May 31, 2018

By Joshua J. McElwee

Pope Francis has become the first leader of the Catholic Church to publicly decry a “culture of abuse and cover-up” in the global institution, admitting in a strikingly blunt letter to the people of Chile that clergy sexual abuse has continued because church leaders have not taken victims seriously.

In an eight-page May 31 message addressed to “the Pilgrim people of God in Chile,” the pope also says Catholic leaders must work to better respect the voices and opinions of non-clerics “to promote communities capable of fighting against abusive situations, communities where exchange, discussion, confrontation are welcome.”

One of the church’s “main faults and omissions,” Francis writes, was “not knowing how to listen to the victims.”

“With shame, I must say that we did not hear and react in time,” he adds in the letter, which was sent to the Chilean bishops’ conference and made public by it.

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