May 31, 2018
By Nicole Winfield and Eva Vergara
Pope Francis became the first pope to publicly denounce a “culture of abuse and cover-up” in the Catholic Church, saying Thursday he was ashamed that neither he nor Chile’s Catholic leaders truly ever listened to victims as the country’s abuse scandal spiraled.
“Never again,” Francis said in a pastoral letter to the Chilean faithful on the eve of another weekend he will spend listening to victims of Chile’s most notorious predator priest. The letter was issued on the same day the Vatican announced its top abuse investigators were returning to Chile on a new mission.
In the eight-page letter, Francis once again thanked victims for their “valiant perseverance” in denouncing abuse and searching for the truth “even against all hopes or attempts to discredit them.”
He included himself among the guilty in failing to actually accompany victims, saying, “With shame I must say that we didn’t know how to listen or respond in time.”
And he spoke repeatedly of a “culture of abuse and cover-up.”
“The ‘never again’ to the culture of abuse and the system of cover-up that allows it to perpetuate requires us to work together to generate a culture of care,” in the way we relate to one another, power and money, he said.
No other pope has publicly spoken of a culture of cover-up in the church. The Vatican has focused for the past decade on punishing abusers themselves rather than the bishops and religious superiors who moved pedophiles from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police or removing them from ministry.
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