VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis acquired a sufferer’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed sexual abuse by the hands of a priest and a cover-up by Chilean church authorities, contradicting the pope’s current insistence that no victims had come ahead, the letter’s creator and members of Francis’ personal sex- abuse fee have informed The Related Press.
The truth that Francis acquired the eight-page letter, obtained by the AP, challenges his insistence that he has “zero tolerance” for intercourse abuse and cover-ups. It additionally calls into query his said empathy with abuse survivors, compounding essentially the most severe disaster of his five-year papacy.
The scandal exploded final month when Francis’ journey to South America was marred by protests over his vigorous protection of Bishop Juan Barros, who’s accused by victims of overlaying up the abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima. Throughout the journey, Francis callously dismissed accusations in opposition to Barros as “slander,” seemingly unaware that victims had positioned him on the scene of Karadima’s crimes.
On the airplane residence, confronted by reporters, the pope mentioned: “You, in all good will, inform me that there are victims, however I haven’t seen any, as a result of they haven’t come ahead.”
However members of the pope’s Fee for the Safety of Minors say that in April 2015, they despatched a delegation to Rome particularly to hand-deliver a letter to the pope about Barros. The letter from Juan Carlos Cruz detailed the abuse, kissing and fondling he says he suffered at Karadima’s fingers, which he mentioned Barros and others witnessed and ignored.
4 members of the fee met with Francis’ high abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, defined their objections to Francis’ current appointment of Barros as a bishop in southern Chile, and gave him the letter to ship to Francis.
“After we gave him (O’Malley) the letter for the pope, he assured us he would give it to the pope and communicate of the considerations,” then-commission member Marie Collins informed the AP. “And at a later date, he assured us that that had been completed.”
Cruz, who now lives and works in Philadelphia, heard the identical later that 12 months.
“Cardinal O’Malley known as me after the pope’s go to right here in Philadelphia and he informed me, amongst different issues, that he had given the letter to the pope — in his fingers,” he mentioned in an interview at his residence Sunday.
Neither the Vatican nor O’Malley responded to a number of requests for remark.
Whereas the 2015 summit of Francis’ fee was identified and publicized on the time, the contents of Cruz’s letter — and of Collins handing it to O’Malley — weren’t disclosed by members. Cruz offered the letter, and Collins offered the picture, after studying an AP story that reported Francis had claimed to have by no means heard from any Karadima victims about Barros’ habits.
The Barros affair first precipitated shockwaves in January 2015 when Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno, Chile, over the objections of the management of Chile’s bishops’ convention and plenty of native clergymen and laity. They accepted as credible the testimony in opposition to Karadima, a distinguished Chilean cleric who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for abusing minors. Barros was a Karadima protege, and in line with Cruz and different victims, he witnessed the abuse and did nothing.
“Holy Father, I write you this letter as a result of I’m uninterested in combating, of crying and struggling,” Cruz wrote in Francis’ native Spanish. “Our story is well-known and there’s no have to repeat it, besides to inform you of the horror of getting lived this abuse and the way I wished to kill myself.”
Cruz and different survivors had for years denounced the cover-up of Karadima’s crimes, however had been dismissed as liars by the Chilean church hierarchy and the Vatican’s personal ambassador in Santiago, who refused their repeated requests to fulfill earlier than and after Barros was appointed.
After Francis’ feedback backing the Chilean hierarchy precipitated such an outcry in Chile, he was pressured final week to do an about-face: The Vatican introduced it was sending in its most revered sex-crimes investigator to take testimony from Cruz and others about Barros.
Within the letter to the pope, Cruz begs for Francis to take heed to him and make good on his pledge of “zero tolerance.”
“Holy Father, it’s unhealthy sufficient that we suffered such great ache and anguish from the sexual and psychological abuse, however the horrible mistreatment we acquired from our pastors is nearly worse,” he wrote.
Cruz goes on to element in specific phrases the homo-eroticized nature of the circle of clergymen and younger boys round Karadima, the charismatic preacher whose El Bosque neighborhood within the well-to-do Santiago neighborhood of Providencia produced dozens of priestly vocations and 5 bishops, together with Barros.
He described how Karadima would kiss Barros and fondle his genitals, and do the identical with youthful clergymen and youths, and the way younger clergymen and seminarians would combat to sit down subsequent to Karadima on the desk to obtain his affections.
“Tougher and difficult was after we had been in Karadima’s room and Juan Barros — if he wasn’t kissing Karadima — would watch when Karadima would contact us — the minors — and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth close to mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his out and kiss us together with his tongue,” Cruz informed the pope. “Juan Barros was a witness to all this innumerable instances, not simply with me however with others as effectively.”
“Juan Barros lined up every little thing that I’ve informed you,” he added.
Barros has repeatedly denied witnessing any abuse or overlaying it up. “I by no means knew something about, nor ever imagined, the intense abuses which that priest dedicated in opposition to the victims,” he informed the AP just lately. “I’ve by no means permitted of nor participated in such severe, dishonest acts, and I’ve by no means been convicted by any tribunal of such issues.”
For the Osorno devoted who’ve opposed Barros as their bishop, the difficulty isn’t a lot a authorized matter requiring proof or proof, as Barros was a younger priest on the time and never ready of authority over Karadima. It’s extra that if Barros didn’t “see” what was taking place round him and doesn’t discover it problematic for a priest to kiss and fondle younger boys, he shouldn’t be in command of a diocese the place he’s liable for detecting inappropriate sexual habits, reporting it to police and defending kids from pedophiles like his mentor.
Cruz had arrived at Karadima’s neighborhood in 1980 as a weak teenager, distraught after the current loss of life of his father. He has mentioned Karadima informed him he can be like a non secular father to him, however as an alternative sexually abused him.
Primarily based on testimony from Cruz and different former members of the parish, the Vatican in 2011 eliminated Karadima from ministry and sentenced him to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes. Now 87, he lives in a house for aged clergymen in Santiago; he hasn’t commented on the scandal and the house has declined to simply accept calls or visits from the information media.
The victims additionally testified to Chilean prosecutors, who opened an investigation into Karadima after they went public with their accusations in 2010. Chilean prosecutors needed to drop prices as a result of an excessive amount of time had handed, however the choose operating the case confused that it wasn’t for lack of proof.
Whereas the victims’ testimony was deemed credible by each Vatican and Chilean prosecutors, the native church hierarchy clearly didn’t imagine them, which could have influenced Francis’ view. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz has acknowledged he didn’t imagine the victims initially and shelved an investigation. He was pressured to reopen it after the victims went public.
He’s now one of many Argentine pope’s key cardinal advisers.
By the point he lastly obtained his letter into the pope’s fingers in 2015, Cruz had already despatched variations to many different folks, and had tried for months to get an appointment with the Vatican ambassador. The embassy’s Dec. 15, 2014, e-mail to Cruz — a month earlier than Barros was appointed — was quick and to the purpose:
“The apostolic nunciature has acquired the message you emailed Dec. 7 to the apostolic nuncio,” it learn, “and on the identical time communicates that your request has been met with an unfavorable response.”
One may argue that Francis didn’t take note of Cruz’s letter, since he receives 1000’s of letters each day from devoted all over the world. He can’t presumably learn all of them, a lot much less keep in mind the contents years later. He might need been drained and confused after a weeklong journey to South America when he informed an airborne press convention that victims by no means got here ahead to accuse Barros of cover-up.
However this was not an bizarre letter, nor had been the circumstances underneath which it arrived within the Vatican.
Francis had named O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, to move his Fee for the Safety of Minors based mostly on his credibility in having helped clear up the mess in Boston after the U.S. intercourse abuse scandal exploded there in 2002. The fee gathered exterior consultants to advise the church on defending kids from pedophiles and educating church personnel about stopping abuse and cover-ups.
The 4 fee members who had been on a particular subcommittee devoted to survivors had flown to Rome at their very own expense particularly to talk with O’Malley in regards to the Barros appointment and to ship Cruz’s letter. A press launch issued after the April 12, 2015, assembly learn: “Cardinal O’Malley agreed to current the considerations of the subcommittee to the Holy Father.”
Fee member Catherine Bonnet, a French youngster psychiatrist who took the picture of Collins handing the letter to O’Malley, mentioned the fee members had determined to descend on Rome particularly when O’Malley and different members of the pope’s group of 9 cardinal advisers had been assembly, in order that O’Malley may put it straight into the pope’s fingers.
“Cardinal O’Malley promised us when Marie gave to him the letter of Juan Carlos that he’ll give to Pope Francis,” she mentioned.
O’Malley’s spokesman in Boston referred requests for remark to the Vatican. Neither the Vatican press workplace, nor officers on the Pontifical Fee for the Safety of Minors, responded to calls and emails in search of remark.
However O’Malley’s outstanding response to Francis’ protection of Barros and to his dismissal of the victims whereas he was in Chile, is probably now higher understood.
In a uncommon rebuke of a pope by a cardinal, O’Malley issued an announcement Jan. 20 wherein he mentioned the pope’s phrases had been “a supply of nice ache for survivors of sexual abuse,” and that such expressions had the impact of abandoning victims and relegating them to “discredited exile.”
A day later, Francis apologized for having demanded “proof” of wrongdoing by Barros, saying he meant merely that he wished to see “proof.” However he continued to explain the accusations in opposition to Barros as “calumny” and insisted he had by no means heard from any victims.
Even when informed in his airborne press convention Jan. 21 that Karadima’s victims had certainly positioned Barros on the scene of Karadima’s abuse, Francis mentioned: “Nobody has come ahead. They haven’t offered any proof for a judgment. That is all a bit obscure. It’s one thing that may’t be accepted.”
He stood by Barros, saying: “I’m sure he’s harmless,” even whereas saying that he thought-about the testimony of victims to be “proof” in a cover-up investigation.
“If anybody may give me proof, I’ll be the primary to pay attention,” he mentioned.
Cruz mentioned he felt like he had been slapped when he heard these phrases.
“I used to be upset,” he mentioned, “and on the identical time I couldn’t imagine that somebody so excessive up just like the pope himself may lie about this.”