Vatican City: Pope Francis on May 15 met with 34 Chilean bishops in the Vatican to discuss a clergy sex abuse scandal that has plagued their national Church.
On the first day of the three-day meeting, the Pope “handed each bishop the text with the subjects for meditation,” the Vatican said.
“We are feeling first of all pain and shame. Pain because unfortunately there are victims; there are people who suffered abuse and this deeply pains us,” Monsignor Fernando Ramos, secretary general of the Chilean bishops’ conference, told a news conference a day earlier.
“And shame, because these abuses took place in ecclesiastical environments, precisely where these kinds of abuse should never happen,” added Monsignor Ramos, who is the auxiliary bishop of Santiago.
A week ago, the Vatican said the Pope wanted to “examine in depth the causes and consequences” of abuses of power and sexual abuse, as well as “the mechanisms that have in some cases led to cover-ups and serious neglect of the victims.”
Visiting Chile in January, Pope Francis initially dismissed as “slander” victims’ allegations that several local bishops covered up the crimes of Father Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican found guilty of molesting children in 2011.
The Pope later apologized for an error of judgment and said he was misled about the case. He sent an envoy to investigate the affair, and invited three abuse victims to the Vatican to personally say sorry.
The victims have called for “exemplary actions” against Chilean church leaders, including Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, 84, who sits on an influential nine-member advisory panel to the Pope.