News

Chile victims of clergy sex abuse praise talks with pope

Father Jordi Bertomeu, second from right, stands with sex abuse victims Jose Andres Murillo, left, James Hamilton, third from left, and Juan Carlos Cruz, right, as they look at St. Peter's Square during the Regina Coeli prayer celebrated by Pope Francis, at the Vatican , Sunday, April 29, 2018. The men, who were sexually abused by a priest in Chile, are describing as helpful the private talks they've had with Pope Francis. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Men who were sexually abused by a priest in Chile described the private talks they’ve had so far with Pope Francis at the Vatican as very helpful and respectful Sunday.

James Hamilton, one of three men staying at the hotel where the pope lives, tweeted that his more than two hours of conversation with Francis were “enormously constructive.” Jose Andres Murillo tweeted that the importance of understanding sexual abuse as “abuse of power” was stressed during his time with the pope.

The third man, Juan Carlos Cruz, was due to meet with Francis on Sunday.

During a January visit to Chile, Francis sought to discredit the men’s claims that a bishop covered up their abuse, calling the victims’ assertions “calumny.” The pope invited them to Vatican City as his guests after his remarks provoked an outcry.

Francis has requested the Holy See not to reveal the content of his talks with the abuse victims, saying his priorities were listening to them and asking their forgiveness.

On Sunday, as some 30,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the pope’s customary noon appearance from an Apostolic Palace window, the three men, looking relaxed, stood on a terrace overlooking the vast space and waved to well-wishers.

In a tweet, Cruz said he was “very satisfied” by how the conversation had gone with the pope and his “dear friends” Murillo and Hamilton, describing the trio as “calm and in peace and feeling very welcome by the Holy Father.”

The three men visiting the Vatican were abused by the Chilean church’s most notorious predator, the Rev. Fernando Karadima. Their testimony was key in the Vatican’s decision to remove Karadima from ministry and to order him in 2011 to a lifetime of penance and prayer.

While traveling in Chile in January, Francis demanded proof of their allegation that a bishop he had appointed to a diocese there, Juan Barros, was aware of their abuse. The men have repeatedly contended that Barros witnessed and ignored their abuse, a claim Barros denied.

The pontiff maintained he had no evidence of Barros’ wrongdoing. The Associated Press has reported that Francis did have evidence, including a letter from Cruz that spelled out Barros’ wrongdoing. The letter was given to Francis’ top adviser on the sex abuse crisis.

Francis has since done an abrupt turnaround, blaming a lack of “truthful and balanced” information reaching him regarding Barros.

About the author

Frances D'Emilio

6 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Would the Pope be doing this if he had not stepped in a pile?

    Can we now expect him to invite Marie Collins for brunch and conversation?

  • It is good that those who went to talk to Francis feel they have been heard.

    But, much rebuilding trust depends on what Francis now does with what he has learned and how clearly we can perceive that something has changed. No more keeping it all secret. At this point, letting those who were abused know they are heard and cared about is most important. But second is the rebuilding of trust among all the people of Chili. Oh, an Ireland, Australia, the U.S., Canada, England, Scotland, many European countries, and whichever is the next nation about which international news headlines will explode because child sex abuse is occurring and is being covered up by bishops, the Vatican, and you, Holy Father.

  • Words are cheap even when they come from a pope. The real test is how this situation changes attitudes and actions. Frankly, we should not even be in this situation given the MANY MANY years of what we all know. Nothing really has changed as it.

  • Obviously, today’s followers of Paul et al’s “magic-man” are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and “magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah/Argentine white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say? Ditto for the popes, living and dead?.

  • “The proof is in the pudding.”

    Last I knew, the Vatican kitchen wasn’t making any pudding.

ADVERTISEMENTs