Papal Advisor Rebukes Pope Francis for Abuse Comments

Papal Advisor Rebukes Pope Francis for Abuse CommentsPapal Advisor Rebukes Pope Francis for Abuse Comments

The Roman Catholic Church’s chief advisor on clerical sexual abuse broke ranks with Pope Francis on Saturday after the pontiff accused Chilean abuse victims of slander.

In a rare public rebuke, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said Pope Francis’s comments during a visit to Chile were “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator,” DW reported.

O’Malley, appearing to engage in damage control after strong reactions in Chile, said Pope Francis “fully recognizes the egregious failures of the church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones.”

Pope Francis on Thursday dismissed abuse accusations against Chilean Bishop Juan Barros in response to a reporter’s question, saying, “There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?”

Barros allegedly protected his former mentor, the Reverend Fernando Karadima, who stood down after an internal Vatican investigation found him guilty in 2011 of abusing teenage boys. Barros denied any knowledge of Karadima’s actions.

The Pope’s comments—made as he was leaving for Peru—sparked widespread uproar in Chile, where the Karadima-Barros case has damaged the Church’s reputation over the last few years.

“Words that convey the message ‘if you cannot prove your claims, then you will not be believed’ abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile,” O’Malley said.


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