Letter in case of Chilean bishop raises new questions

| February 9, 2018 | 5 Comments

Chilean Father Fernando Karadima attends a 2015 hearing at the Supreme Court building in Santiago. CNS photo/Sebastian Silva, EPA

Less than a week after the Vatican announced Pope Francis was sending a trusted investigator to Chile to listen to people with information about a bishop accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse, the Associated Press reported the pope was given a detailed letter from a survivor almost three years ago.

The Vatican had said Jan. 30 that Pope Francis’ decision to send Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to investigate was prompted by “recently received information” in the case of Bishop Juan Barros, who was named bishop of Osorno, Chile, in 2015.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Bishop Barros’ mentor, Father Fernando Karadima, gave the AP a copy of an eight-page letter he wrote in 2015 to Pope Francis, graphically describing the abuse he suffered and saying that then-Father Barros was in the room watching when some of the incidents occurred.

AP released its story Feb. 5. On Feb. 7, it reported that Archbishop Scicluna would fly to the United States to interview Cruz.

As of Feb. 7, the Vatican had not not commented.

The letter appeared to contradict what Pope Francis had told reporters who accompanied him to Chile and Peru. During the trip, the pope had said that the people accusing Bishop Barros were guilty of slander and calumny because they had presented no “evidence” of the bishop’s guilt.

“No one has come forward, they haven’t provided any evidence for a judgment,” Pope Francis said. “You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.”

“If anyone can give me evidence, I’ll be the first to listen,” the pope told reporters Jan. 21 on the flight back to Rome.

But Cruz and two former members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said they were assured by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, commission president, that he had personally given the eight-page letter to Pope Francis in 2015.

“Four members of the PCPM traveled in April 2015 to Rome to meet Cardinal O’Malley. We passed a letter to him for the Holy Father from survivors of Karadima. He assured us he would give the letter to the pope and discuss the Barros appointment. The pope was not left in the dark,” Marie Collins, one of the former commission members, wrote on Twitter Feb. 1.

“This is why I was shocked when I heard the pope had said on the plane the Karadima victims had not come to him and he would listen if they did. I knew they had contacted him directly with this letter three years ago!” she tweeted Feb. 5 after AP published details about the letter Cruz had written.

The Associated Press reported that Cardinal O’Malley’s spokesman in Boston referred requests for comment to the Vatican. Neither the Vatican press office, nor officials at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, responded to calls and emails seeking comment.

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Category: U.S. & World News

  • Charles C.

    I sincerely pray that Mr. Cruz’ letter was intercepted by Cardinal O’Malley or someone on the Pope’s staff, and that the Pope never saw it.

    I further pray that an explanation will be forthcoming to clear all of this up. Pray for the Pope and the Church.

    • Jon Rocketansky

      I pray and pray and pray that the Pope gets removed for his lies and deceipt in this matter since he and the previous two Popes are a main part of protecting rapists. Jesus was for children, not against them! He was for Christians, not against them. May God throw them into the lake of Fire!

      • Charles C.

        Dear Jon Rocketansky,

        I can’t go that far. You have no duty to listen to my advice, I realize that. Forgive me for offering it.

        I can’t pray that anyone be condemned to an eternity in Hell. I hold on to the hope that all sinners might repent and be reconciled to God. Yes, hating the actions of those who abuse children is entirely appropriate and just, but hating the people who do it? We have to be careful here, hatred and anger can be serious temptations to mortal sin and go against all of Jesus’ teachings.

        I hope that I am not punished justly for my sins, but that I can find forgiveness and mercy. I hope that for all sinners. You might want to consider that option.

        • Jon Rocketansky

          I knew you’d protect pedophiles by your past entries and that’s your right. But, you are part of the problem then continuing to support an institution that harbors even one pedophile, let alone a world full of them, instead of standing up to them. It’s not like they are Holy (obviously).
          It’s also easy for you to Judge if you or anyone you’ve loved never been raped by a priest and had it covered up and minimized. I typically find that a person views change 180 degrees when it happens to them. It’s because few Catholics have empathy when it comes to the victims…unless it’s them.
          Very wrong. Pedophiles and their lies and protecting them instead of the victims go against Jesus’s teachings. The pope is proved to be a liar and as far as I’m concerned, a false prophet. Maybe he should step down like Ratzinberger and put someone in there that cares about others instead of himself.
          By the way, I hate Hitler also. I suppose he was a swell guy also??

          • Charles C.

            Dear Jon Rocketansky,

            You misunderstand me. If a priest commits any crime he should be punished under the law. As far as his punishment under God is concerned, that is not a matter for you or me. As someone said “That’s above my pay grade.”

            If an abusing priest is convicted and jailed (I suppose in some countries he might be executed), that’s one thing I can support if the process is conducted according to law.

            I see nothing wrong in hoping that a sinner repents and is returned to communion with God.

            I see you have chosen to not adopt my advice about the dangers of an all-consuming hatred. That’s fine, it’s up to you. I don’t think you will find it very satisfying.