The Philly man who survived sexual abuse by a priest, and the pope who asked for his forgiveness

Philadelphia Inquirer

May 25, 2018

By Kristin E. Holmes

Juan Carlos Cruz risked upending his life as a Philadelphia executive to speak out about the trauma he had spent decades trying to forget. He went so far as to write an eight-page letter to Pope Francis in 2015 recounting the alleged sexual crimes against him as a teenager and the cover-up that ensued — only to have the pontiff disbelieve him.

The abuse that he claimed he endured while growing up in Chile at the hands of a then-respected cleric, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, was dismissed as “slander” by the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. What hope was there for change in the church, a disheartened Cruz wondered, if the most powerful figure in Christendom refused to listen?

Earlier this year, however, the Vatican dispatched investigators to look into not only Cruz’ accusations but other reports of sexual misconduct roiling the Chilean church. They found even the worst to be true.

So on April 29, in the private papal living room at Casa Santa Marta in Vatican City, Cruz sat face-to-face with Francis, as the pontiff pleaded for forgiveness.

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