After Pope Francis insulted the victim of sexual harassment during his visit to Chile, he is now sending the Vatican’s most respected sex crimes expert to Chile to investigate Bishop Juan Barros. “The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,” Francis said at the time. “But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?” After this papal statement even one of his closest advisers, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, publicly rebuked him for his treatment of victims and tried to set him straight. Francis later apologized for having demanded proof of victims, but stood by his belief that the accusations against the bishop were “calumny”.
The Vatican said on January 30 that Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna would travel to Chile “to listen to those who have expressed the desire to provide elements” about the case of Bishop Juan Barros.
“As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all,” Cruz, Barros’ most vocal accuser, tweeted Jan. 19. “We hope the pope reacted based on the sentiments of the faithful, more than media pressure, but he did it,” said a statement from Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman of the Osorno laity group.
Fernando Karadima, the country's most notorious priest, was found guilty of sexually abusing minors and psychological abuse in Chile in February 2011 after several years of a Catholic canonical investigation. He was sent to a "life of prayer and penitence" and to "lifelong prohibition from the public exercise of any ministerial act, particularly confession and the spiritual guidance of any category of persons."
In 2015, after Karadima was sanctioned, Barros and two other Karadima-trained bishops were supposed to resign and take a year-long sabbatical, according to letter obtained by The Associated Press. Francis put a stop to that plan and decided to appoint a protege of Karadima, Bishop Juan Barros, as bishop of the southern city of Osorno regardless of the allegations of Karadima’s victims that Barros and other priests were aware of his perversions but did nothing.
As Promoter of Justice, Scicluna was credited with constructing the 2010 universal norms that extended the Church's statutes of limitations on reporting cases of sexual abuse and expanded the category of ecclesial crimes to include sexual misconduct with a disabled adult and possession of child pornography. He was also instrumental in finally bringing to justice Latin America’s most notorious pedophile, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ.
Maybe after Scicluna’s visit Pope will have enough evidence to believe in the stories of the victims and to investigate with more dedication those responsible for sex crimes in the church.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia