Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on April 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope to Chile abuse victims: 'I was part of the problem'

ROME (AP) — The three whistleblowers in Chile's sex abuse scandal urged Pope Francis  to transform his apology for having discredited them into concrete action to end what they called the "epidemic" of sex abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church.

Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo spoke to reporters Wednesday (May 2) after spending five days with the pope at his Vatican hotel. Their press conference was broadcast live in Chile, a sign of the unprecedented nature of their hours of meetings with the pope.

Cruz said that during his private encounter with Francis, the pope acknowledged: "I was part of the problem. I caused this, and I apologize to you."

"I believe that he was sincere," Cruz said.

Cruz said he believed that Francis was simply misinformed about the case of Bishop Juan Barros, whom the three men have long accused of having witnessed and ignored their abuse.

Barros was a protege of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a charismatic preacher and darling of Chile's conservative Catholic society who was removed from ministry and sentenced by the Vatican in 2011 to live in penance and prayer for having sexually abused minors.

Barros and other Karadima-trained bishops never acknowledged having witnessed his abuse, even though his victims have long placed them at the scene.

Francis had strongly defended Barros during his January trip to Chile, calling the accusations against him "calumny." He claimed to have never heard from victims about Barros, even though he had received in 2015 a letter from Cruz detailing Barros' wrongdoing.

Cruz had written to Francis after the pope overruled opposition from some Chilean bishops and appointed Barros bishop of Osorno. Just this week, a former Chilean minister revealed that the Chilean government too had wanted Barros out as the preacher to the Chilean armed forces and was "surprised" when Francis named him instead to head up Osorno.

Cruz said he didn't press the pope on what he knew or when. But he said he warned him about the "toxicity" of the churchmen who had "duped him," naming the current and former archbishops of Santiago, the Vatican's ambassador to Chile and members of the Chilean bishops' conference.

Hamilton said they will probably never know the full truth about what the pope knew, but that the important thing is that the pope now is "very well-informed." Hamilton said he was prepared to wait to see what concrete action Francis will take.

"Everybody deserves, especially in this case, a second chance," Hamilton said of the pope.

The three men didn't say what exactly they want Francis to do. But previously, they have called for Barros and other Karadima-trained bishops to resign, as well as a handful of other Chilean bishops with poor records on dealing with abuse cases.

Francis has summoned the entire Chilean bishops conference to Rome later this month for a dressing-down and to plot reforms in the church.

In a statement, the men said they saw the "friendly face" of the church this week after having been treated for 10 years as "enemies" of the Chilean hierarchy.

But they warned that unless Francis takes concrete action, their talks will be in vain. They said abuse and cover-up are not just sins "but crimes and corruption that do not end in Chile but are an epidemic."


  1. According to the Pope, “I was part of the problem, I caused this”

    And ………..???!!!

  2. “Actions speak louder than words.”

  3. NO, part of the problem here is “Pope Francis … acknowledg[ing] ‘I was part of the problem.'” The other part of the problem is actually “believ[ing] that he was sincere”.

    NO, the real problem is not just pedophilia but THE CATHOLIC SUB-SACRAMENT OF THE UNHOLY ORDER OF PEDOPHILE PRIESTS. Solve just that one problem, why don’t you, Pope! And I promise you I’ll turn Catholic in a heartbeat. (Just as I’ve promised I’ll stay Evangelical to the end once Evangelicals solve their in-house problem with porn and adultery.)

  4. Here’s some loving advice for you, HpO: YOU YOURSELF remain IN CHRIST, no matter what anyone else is doing or not doing,my friend. On That Day, when you’re standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ, He won’t be talking to anyone but YOU at that moment. Peace in Christ to you. ☺

  5. Reminder much needed & appreciated. I guess my impatience is starting to show. To the point of selling myself out to fellow & other Christians in order that they’d do what’s right. Which is a no no. You’re right about that. Thanks for snapping me out of it.

    Have a great weekend, you & your loved ones.

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