Last month I covered Pope Francis’s visit to Chile, where he accused victims of sex abuse by the Catholic Church of slander. He later apologized after the resulting uproar over his callous comments.
Now, one of the more vocal victims of abuse in Chile will give testimony in New York to the Vatican’s “sex-crimes expert”.
As I covered previously, Rev. Fernando Karadima was sentenced in 2011 to “a lifetime of penance and prayer” for molesting children for years. Penance and prayer. That was the only penalty the Vatican levied against Karadima for his crimes against children. In the years since, the Catholic Church has lost much of its influence and respect in Chile as a result of the church’s mishandling of the situation.
In 2015, Pope Francis appointed Juan Barros to the position of Bishop of the Diocese of Osorno, Chile. Barros had been Karadima’s protégé, and some of Karadima’s victims have said for years that Barros knew what Karadima was doing to children. Barros has denied the claims.
One of Karadima’s victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, has maintained that Barros was actually present in the room when Karadima abused him. Cruz will now get to meet with the Vatican’s sex-crimes expert, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, in New York on February 17th.
Cruz was grateful for the opportunity to meet Scicluna in person. He said, “I see a good disposition, that they’re not only taking my testimony seriously but also that of all those who are desperate living with the anguish of sexual abuse and a church that does nothing for them.”
While I hope for Cruz’s sake that the meeting with Scicluna goes well, I am initially skeptical that anything worthwhile will be accomplished. Pope Francis has shown that he is more interested in protecting priests and the church than he is in protecting children from sexual predators. In that way Francis is no different from the other clergymen in his church. Francis and other leaders in the Catholic Church have a history of putting their own interests above those of the children in their congregations.