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« Reply #375 on: Mar 22, 2015, 05:53 AM »

Angry Protest Over New Bishop in Chile

By PASCALE BONNEFOY
MARCH 21, 2015
IHT

SANTIAGO, Chile — Hundreds of demonstrators dressed in black barged into a cathedral in a city in southern Chile on Saturday and interrupted the installation ceremony for the city’s new Roman Catholic bishop, Juan Barros, whom they accuse of complicity in a notorious case of clerical sexual abuse, blocking his passage and shouting, “Barros, get out of the city!”

The scene inside the Cathedral San Mateo de Osorno was chaotic, with television images showing clashes between Barros opponents, carrying black balloons, and Barros supporters, carrying white ones. Radio reports said several protesters tried to climb onto the altar where Bishop Barros was standing. After the ceremony, he left the cathedral through a side door escorted by police special forces. Outside, about 3,000 people, including local politicians and members of Congress, held signs and chanted demands that he resign.

Weeks of protests, candlelight vigils and letters to Pope Francis were not enough to persuade him to rescind his decision in January to appoint Bishop Barros to lead the Diocese of Osorno, 570 miles south of the capital, Santiago. Bishop Barros was a close associate of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a prominent Santiago priest whom the Vatican found guilty of sexual abuse in 2011. Father Karadima, now 84, was ordered to retire to a “life of prayer and penitence.”

The appeal was also a test case for the pope’s stated policy of zero tolerance for clerical abuses.

“We are used to the blows by the Chilean Catholic hierarchy, but it’s especially hurtful when the slap in the face comes from Pope Francis himself,” Juan Carlos Cruz, 51, who said he was abused by Father Karadima in the ’80s, said in a telephone interview. “We hoped he was different.”

On Saturday, the Vatican declined to comment on Francis’ appointment of Bishop Barros.

Mr. Cruz and three other young men who were devoted followers of Father Karadima, and members of a Catholic youth movement he oversaw, accused him of sexually abusing them over two decades, starting when they were teenagers. Criminal charges were filed against the priest alleging abuse during the years 1980 to 1995, but a Chilean judge dismissed them in 2011, saying the statute of limitations had expired.

In a February letter to Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, the papal nuncio to Chile, Mr. Cruz accused Bishop Barros of covering up Father Karadima’s abuses, threatening seminarians if they spoke out about them and, while serving as secretary to Cardinal Juan Francisco Fresno, destroying letters addressed to him reporting the abuses.

“When we were in Karadima’s bedroom, Juan Barros saw how he touched us and made us kiss him,” said Mr. Cruz, referring to himself and other young victims. “He witnessed all of that countless times. And he has covered it all up.”

In a statement addressed to the Osorno community, Bishop Barros denied any knowledge of the abuses. “I never imagined the serious abuses committed by this priest,” he said. “I have never approved or participated in these gravely dishonest acts.”

In February, more than 30 priests and deacons of the Osorno Diocese signed a letter to Archbishop Scapolo asking the pope to reverse his decision. “We don’t feel embraced, and much less understood, by our church hierarchy,” they said. “The spiritual union of our church has been damaged.” Days earlier, 51 members of the Chilean Congress sent a letter to the Vatican asking the pope to revoke the appointment.

On Wednesday, the Chilean Bishops Conference issued a brief statement backing Pope Francis in “a spirit of faith and obedience” and calling for the unity of the church, without addressing the accusations against the bishop.

The archbishop of Concepción, Fernando Chomalí, met with the pope in Rome on March 6. “I spoke to him at length about the consequences the appointment has had in Osorno and the country,” Archbishop Chomalí said in a text message. “He was very well-informed of the letters he had received through different channels. The pope told me he had analyzed the situation in detail and found no reason” to reverse his decision.

Juan Carlos Claret, 21, a law student and church member who has been leading the protests in Osorno, said at least six candlelight vigils had been held in front of the cathedral in recent weeks. “A bishop has to have moral authority and Barros doesn’t have it, not for priests, lay people or civil society,” he said. “What does it take for Barros to resign, if he has the entire community against him?”


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« Reply #376 on: Mar 28, 2015, 06:22 AM »

Pope faces protests by sex abuse board against bishop’s appointment

Incredulity over Francis’s approval of Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who is alleged to have covered up for a notorious South American paedophile

Associated Press in Vatican City
Thursday 26 March 2015 18.48 GMT Last modified on Thursday 26 March 2015 20.33 GMT

Several members of Pope Francis’s sex abuse advisory board have expressed concern and incredulity over his decision to appoint a Chilean bishop to a diocese despite allegations that he covered up for the South American nation’s most notorious paedophile.

In interviews and emails with Associated Press, the experts have questioned the pope’s pledge to hold bishops accountable and keep children safe, given the record of Bishop Juan Barros in the case of the Rev Fernando Karadima.

The five commission members spoke to AP in their personal and professional capacities and stressed that they were not speaking on behalf of the commission, which Francis formed in late 2013 and named Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, to head.

“I am very worried,” said Dr Catherine Bonnet, a commission member, French child psychiatrist and author on child sex abuse. “Although the commission members cannot intervene with individual cases, I would like to meet with Cardinal O’Malley and other members of the commission to discuss a way to pass over our concerns to Pope Francis.”

Pope's promise to tackle abuse tested by appointment of Chilean bishop

Another commission member, Marie Collins, herself a survivor of abuse, said she could not understand how Francis could have appointed Barros, given the concerns about his behaviour.

“It goes completely against what he [Francis] has said in the past about those who protect abusers,” Collins told AP. “The voice of the survivors is being ignored, the concerns of the people and many clergy in Chile are being ignored, and the safety of children in this diocese is being left in the hands of a bishop about whom there are grave concerns for his commitment to child protection.”

Barros was installed as bishop of the southern Chilean diocese of Osorno last weekend amid unprecedented opposition, and scuffles inside the cathedral by protesters who say he is unfit to lead. The demonstrators point to his close association with Karadima, a charismatic and popular priest who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for sexually abusing minors.

Three of Karadima’s victims told AP this month that Barros witnessed the abuse decades ago at the Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Santiago, the Chilean capital, and that he did nothing. They accused Barros of destroying a letter detailing allegations against Karadima that was sent to the then bishop in 1982.

Barros had long refused to comment publicly on the allegations, but on the eve of his installation insisted he did not know about any abuse until he read about the allegations in 2010 news reports.

Barros’s appointment in January sparked unprecedented opposition, in a country that is slowly coming to grips with the church sex abuse crisis that has afflicted the US, Europe and Australia in particular. More than 1,300 church members in Osorno, along with 30 priests from the diocese and 51 of Chile’s 120 members of parliament, sent letters to Francis in February urging him to rescind the appointment.

To no avail. On the eve of the 21 March installation, the Vatican embassy in Chile issued a statement expressing its full “confidence and support” in Barros and urging the church in Chile to show a spirit of “faith as well as communion” by accepting Barros as the new Osorno bishop.

His installation, however, was a scene of utter chaos, with protesters entering the cathedral, pushing and shoving and nearly coming to blows as Barros tried to walk down the aisle. Most of the diocese’s priests boycotted the event, an almost unheard-of vote of no confidence in a new bishop.

The appointment has divided Chile’s bishops’ conference, and it remains to be seen if Barros will be able to effectively govern. That said, the Holy See is loth to be bullied by popular opinion, although Francis has shown himself willing to remove bishops who have divided their local church or caused scandal.

Never try to cover up child sex abuse, Pope Francis tells clergy

The issue is particularly delicate for Francis, who would have known well the Karadima scandal when it broke in 2010, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires in neighbouring Argentina. The scandal implicated his friend, the then archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, who admitted that he shelved an investigation into Karadima in 2005 but reopened it in 2010 as the global abuse crisis was erupting.

Francis has since made Errázuriz a member of his group of nine core cardinal advisers. Any wavering by Francis on the Barros appointment could open a Pandora’s box of renewed allegations against Errázuriz and others in the Chilean church hierarchy who dismissed allegations from victims and instead stood by Karadima.

Commission member Baroness Sheila Hollins, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist and life peer in Britain’s House of Lords, said accountability regardless of role or rank must be enforced when it comes to children being sexually abused.

“The hierarchical rank of the perpetrator must be of no consequence in evaluating the facts,” she said. “The crime of sexual violation against children and minors transcends both rank and role.”


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