Pope defends bishop accused of sex abuse coverup
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 1/19/18, 12:22 pm
Pope Francis on Friday defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual assaults and said the accusations against him amounted to “calumny.” Bishop Juan Barros was the protégé of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican dismissed in 2011 for assaulting dozens of minors over decades. Several victims said Barros knew about the assaults but did nothing. The case sparked further outrage in 2015 when the pope appointed him as bishop. “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak,” Francis said. “There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny.” The statement sparked outrage among several of Karadima’s victims and their advocates. Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the accusers, said on Twitter that the pope’s plea for forgiveness is empty. “As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all,” he said. Francis wrapped up his visit to Chile on Friday. Earlier on his trip, he met with people abused by priests and pleaded for forgiveness during a meeting with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and other officials.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.