Chile's bishops acknowledge heads could roll over abuse cover-up

Chile's bishops acknowledge heads could roll over abuse cover-up

Pope Francis meeting 34 Chilean bishops in the Paul VI hall, May 15, 2018.

Paul's great love, said the Pope, "is Jesus Christ".

During a visit to Chile in January, Pope Francis strongly defended a bishop, Juan Barros, who was accused by victims of Chile's most notorious predator priest of having witnessed and ignored their abuse. They did so in late April.

Francis may have also been referring to Chilean bishops implicated in a sex abuse cover-up scandal. A photograph released Tuesday does not show them.

In a statement, the Vatican said Francis believed it was "necessary to examine in depth the causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that have led, in certain cases, to concealment and serious omissions towards the victims".

Chilean sources note that the three laymen abused by Father Karadima, and whom the Pope received earlier this month, were young adults aged 18 to 19 when the abuse took place, whereas Father Guzman's victims were between the ages of 12-17. As was announced on Saturday, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops and of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America is taking part.

Both avoided giving a direct response regarding possible resignations of Chilean bishops.

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After Monday's press conference, the bishops mostly have remained quiet, complying with a promise of "confidentiality".

The bishops - Fernando Ramos, auxiliary bishop of Santiago, and Juan Ignacio González of San Bernardo - said clerical sexual abuse is "unacceptable" and "intolerable", and is something they are committed to eradicating.

He concluded his homily with a prayer: "I am thinking of all bishops". "The truth according to the bishops of Chile is very different from what we all have lived".

In some way, the Pope said, Paul knows that he is going "towards trials, towards the cross and this recalls for us Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, doesn't it?"

"This evening the Pope delivered to each of the bishops a text with some themes to meditate on", the Vatican said.

It is fundamental to restore trust in the Church through good pastors who testify with their life that they have heard the voice of the Good Pastor, who know how to accompany the suffering of the victims and to work decidedly and tirelessly on the prevention of abuses. As a result, Paul exhorts "watch the flock; you are bishops for the flock, to keep the flock, not to climb into an ecclesiastical career", Francis explained.

Francis was reflecting on St. Paul discerning when to leave his flock in the care of others, a decision Francis said all bishops must make.

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