Pope meets Chilean clerical sexual abuse survivors

Three Chilean clerical sexual abuse survivors have met with Pope Francis.

Francis invited the survivors, Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Andres Murillo, to stay in the Santa Marta residence where he lives.

In a series of meetings that began in the Vatican on Friday, continued over the weekend and finished on Monday, Francis and the three survivors spoke privately.

One of the three survivors, Hamilton, tweeted that his more than two hours of conversation with Francis were “enormously constructive”.

Murillo also tweeted about his meeting, saying he stressed the importance of understanding sexual abuse as “abuse of power” when he met with Francis.

The third man, Cruz, has not yet commented about his meeting, which was on Sunday.

However, he said in a tweet he was happy his friends were “calm and in peace and feeling very welcome by the Holy Father” after their visits with Francis.

Before the meetings, Francis vowed to ask for the men’s forgiveness for not believing Bishop Juan Barros covered up the abuse meted out to them by Fr Fernando Karadima who is held to be the Chilean church’s most notorious sex predator.

Francis initially believed Barros and, while in Chile at the beginning of the year, defended him publicly several times.

He even said the accusations against Barros were “calumnies.”

However shortly after returning to Rome, Francis decided to send Archbishop Charles Scicluna – a former top prosecutor on sex abuse crimes – to investigate the allegations.

After reading Scicluna’s 2,300-page report, he invited the three survivors to the Vatican to meet with him.

The Vatican says Francis hopes to use the meetings with the three survivors as a “fundamental step forward” in ridding the church of abuse.


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