Pope apologises for 'serious mistakes' in judging Chilean abuse cases

Pope apologises for 'serious mistakes' in judging Chilean abuse cases

"For my part, I recognize - and so I want it to be faithfully transmitted - that I have fallen in grave errors of judgment and perception of the situation, especially due to the lack of truthful and balanced information", Francis wrote. The letter does not discuss the future of Barros.

The Pope's letter in full can be read in the pdf link below.

Then soon after his visit, Pope Francis, in a stunning about-face, made a decision to send to Chile Archbishop Scicluna - the Catholic Church's top expert on investigating sex abuse - to review "recently received information concerning the case" of Bishop Barros.

Scicluna's 2,300-page March 20 report includes testimony from abuse victims. Not all of the witnesses spoke about Father Karadima and Bishop Barros; several of them gave testimony about abuse alleged to have occurred at a Marist Brothers' school.

In a letter to 32 Chilean bishops released by the Vatican, Francis said he meant to summon them to Rome to discuss an investigation into an alleged cover-up by Bishop Juan Barros of abuse by paedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s. After years of investigation by the church, the Vatican found father Fernando Karadima guilty of sexually abusing minors in Chile and he was prohibited by the church to participate in any ministerial act.

Barros said he was unaware of any wrongdoing but the boys his mentor abused insisted he covered it up and were outraged at his promotion to bishop. In addition to heading the Archdiocese of Malta, in 2015 he was named by the Pope to oversee a team in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith charged with handling appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse.

The pope has asked the 34 Chilean bishops to discuss the findings of the investigations and his own conclusions "without prejudices nor preconceived ideas, with the single objective of making the truth shine in our lives".

The bishops, he said, shared in the pope's pain.

"I can't condemn him because I don't have evidence". It is all slander.

"Let's just say it's very clear now the pope has a complete picture of the situation", Burke said.

The retired archbishop of Santiago also accused victims of being liars and "serpents", and an old Spanish Jesuit friend evaluated Barros years ago and vouched for him.

After hugging Bishop Barros publicly during his visit, he called the accusations... But, he added, "obviously we didn't do everything we should have done".

Pope Francis wrote they must now work together to "re-establish confidence in the church, confidence that was broken by our errors and sins, and heal the wounds that continue to bleed in Chilean society".

He said he felt, in his words, "pain and shame" in an unusual letter released on Wednesday.

But some of the pope's critics were still not convinced by what they see as his effort to distance himself from the scandal, arguing that one of the harshest allegations against the head of the Catholic Church - that he deliberately ignored leads that would have exposed Barros's involvement in the scandal early on - has still not been disproved. He also said they should present "proof" of their claims.

He told Chilean bishops in a letter that he would apologise to each victim in person.