Pope defends Chilean bishop from accusations of covering up sexual abuse

Popemobile grinds to a halt as Pontiff aids fallen police woman (VIDEO, PHOTO)

One of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, said that Barros had been present while he was being molested by the pedophile priest.

"The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I'll speak, " Francis said.

While the Argentine pontiff, Latin America's first pope, has condemned corruption on past trips, it is rare for him to mention it alongside a leader, particularly one who has been tainted by scandal like Kuczynski.

O'Malley is now making his way to Peru for a previously scheduled trip unrelated to the Barros statement, and a spokesman told the Catholic News Service he expects O'Malley at some point will join the pope as he typically does on papal trips.

According to Saturday's agenda, Pope Francis will take a tour on the popemobile through the neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where almost 3,000 victims of the Niño Costero meteorological phenomenon previous year will be waiting for him. Francis has not named new members, and the committee's future remains unclear. He is widely lauded for his leadership in the Archdiocese of Boston after the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, amid widespread reports of clerical sexual abuse under Law's leadership.

During a previous trip to Latin America, in Paraguay in 2015, Francis said: "Corruption is the plague, it's the gangrene of society". Francis leaves Sunday to return to Rome.

"It is understandable that Pope Francis' statements yesterday in Santiago, Chile were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator", said Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, in a January 20 statement.

"Words that convey the message "if you can not prove your claims then you will not be believed" abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile", O'Malley's statement read. A Chilean judge also noted that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, there was no lack of proof that he was guilty.

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He drew anger by accusing victims of a paedophile priest of slandering a bishop they accuse of trying to cover up the priest's crimes.

"We ask you to defend us", said Yesica Patiachi, a representative of the Harakbut people - one of 23 indigenous peoples specifically mentioned in the pope's greeting at the start of the meeting. But many in the church and the Vatican had come to acknowledge that victims usually told the truth and that the church had wrongly sought to protect its own by demonizing and discrediting the most vulnerable of its flock.

The pope sparked outrage Thursday during his visit to Chile, which was supposed to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal there.

"Accompanying the Holy Father at numerous meetings with survivors, I have witnessed his pain of knowing the depth and breadth of the wounds inflicted on those who were abused and that the process of recovery can take a lifetime", O'Malley said.

The emeritus archbishop of Santiago subsequently apologized for having refused to believe the victims from the start.

His appointment outraged Chileans, badly divided the Osorno diocese and further undermined the church's credibility in the country.

The Catholic Church suffered a body blow in Chile in 2010 when Karadima was publicly accused of molesting several teenage boys in the capital, Santiago, starting in the 1980s.

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