“Papal sex abuse commission members meet over Chilean bishop” & related articles

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13 April 2015

(Reuters) – Members of a commission advising Pope Francis on how to rid the Catholic Church of sexual abuse have met a top Vatican official to express their misgivings over the appointment of a bishop in Chile accused of covering up abuse.

Marie Collins, a victim of abuse from Ireland, told Reuters the meeting four members had with Cardinal Sean O’Malley on Sunday night “went well and the cardinal promised to take our concerns to the Holy Father”.

Last month, the Vatican defended the appointment of Juan Barros as bishop of the Chilean city of Osorno, which had outraged some parishioners, national legislators and abuse victims who said Barros had protected one of the nation’s most notorious paedophiles.

The four lay commission members who flew to Rome to meet O’Malley said in a statement it was of “paramount importance” that the Vatican appoint bishops who understand child protection.

“In the light of the fact that sexual abuse is so common, the ability of a bishop to enact effective policies, and to carefully monitor compliance is essential,” it said.

Critics in Chile say Barros was aware of and helped cover up abuse by Father Fernando Karadima, 84, a mentor to a number of younger priests including Barros.

Karadima has denied accusations of abuse and Barros denies having any knowledge that abuse took place.

But in 2011 a Vatican investigation found Karadima guilty of abusing teenage boys over many years and ordered him to retire to “a life of prayer and penitence”. A separate criminal case against Karadima collapsed because of the statute of limitations.

Juan Barros was installed on March 21 as supporters holding white balloons and opponents carrying black ones shouted at each other during the ceremony in Osorno cathedral.

In response to the protests, the Vatican last month said its Congregation for Bishops had “carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment”.

Critics say it will be impossible for Barros to do his job given the divisions the appointment has caused and say he should be removed or step down.

The other three members of the commission who met O’Malley were Peter Saunders, a victim of abuse, and Baroness Sheila Hollins, both of Britain, and Catherine Bonnet of France. Hollins and Bonnet are experts on child protection. O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, is head of the 17-member commission.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson)


Pope’s sex abuse advisors meet in Rome over Chile bishop

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Four members of Pope Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission headed to Rome on Sunday to voice their concerns in person about Francis’ appointment of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up for the country’s most notorious molester.

Commission member Marie Collins said she and three other commission members would meet later Sunday with Francis’ point-man on abuse, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, and ask him to relay their concerns to the pope about the appointment of Juan Barros as bishop of Osorno.

Victims of Chile’s most notorious abuser, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, say Barros knew of and even witnessed Karadima’s abuse decades ago when he was a protege of the charismatic Karadima, who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for sexually abusing minors.

Collins said that if Barros doesn’t appreciate that Karadima’s behavior then was inappropriate, “then he doesn’t understand child abuse.”

“And if he doesn’t understand child abuse,” she continued, “there’s a child protection concern about him being in charge of a diocese.”

Barros, the former chaplain of Chile’s armed forces, has faced unprecedented popular and ecclesial opposition ever since he was named in January. More than 1,300 church members in Osorno, along with some 30 diocesan priests and 51 of Chile’s 120 members of Parliament, sent letters to Francis urging him to rescind the appointment.

Barros has denied wrongdoing and insisted he didn’t know about the abuse until reading 2010 news reports. The Vatican has defended the appointment by saying there were no “objective reasons” to scuttle it.

Collins, herself a survivor of abuse, says the victims’ claims that Barros witnessed inappropriate behavior and did nothing — as well as the unprecedented opposition his appointment has created — makes him unfit and likely unable to lead.

Already, a recent meeting between Barros and angry parishioners fell apart when Barros showed up with two body guards and police dogs, security measures taken after his installation ceremony was marred by violent protests inside the cathedral.


Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield


Abuse victims upset about Chilean bishop will meet with Cardinal O’Malley


10 April 2015

By Inés San Martín

Vatican correspondent April 10, 2015

Irish abuse victim Marie Collins, a clergy abuse survivor nominated by Pope Francis to sit on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, looked at Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley during their first briefing at the Holy See press office at the Vatican last May. (Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters/CNS)
Irish abuse victim Marie Collins, a clergy abuse survivor nominated by Pope Francis to sit on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, looked at Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley during their first briefing at the Holy See press office at the Vatican last May. (Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters/CNS)

ROME — Two survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy who now sit on a Vatican anti-abuse commission are traveling to Rome this weekend to meet with Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley to protest Pope Francis’ recent appointment of a Chilean bishop linked to a notorious sex abuser.

A commission member speaking on background because he’s not authorized to discuss the matter confirmed to Crux that the meeting between O’Malley and the two victims who sit on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors — Marie Collins of Ireland and Peter Saunders of the United Kingdom — will happen on Sunday.

Collins and Saunders will be joined by two other members of the Vatican panel.

Saunders spoke on Friday about the upcoming meeting in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter.

“I’m hoping Francis will be there as well, because we’re going to meet [O’Malley] in the Domus Santa Marta about this Chilean bishop situation, which is really quite disturbing,” Saunders said.

The Chilean bishop is Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, previously in charge of Chile’s military diocese, who was appointed in mid-January as the new bishop of the small Osorno diocese and installed March 21 amid violent protests.

Barros is one of four bishops mentored by the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a long-time point of reference for Catholic clergy in the country. In 2011, the Vatican sentenced Karadima to a life of “penitence and prayer” after finding him guilty of pedophilia and abuse of his ecclesiastical position.

The victims of Karadima have accused Barros and three other bishops of covering up for Karadima while he sexually abused devoted followers during the 1980s and 1990s. None of those bishops was ever charged with a crime, either by the Vatican or Chilean law enforcement agencies.

Saunders, founder of the UK-based National Association for People Abused in Childhood, told NCR that Barros “should not be in charge of a diocese where he will be responsible for young people. It’s an outrage.”

Through Twitter, Collins also has been outspoken against the appointment of Barros to the diocese of Osorno, calling it “a disappointment.”

The commission is currently working in small groups, each providing different perspectives to issues related to the prevention and protection of minors and vulnerable adults.

2 Responses to “Papal sex abuse commission members meet over Chilean bishop” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    “..the cardinal promised to take our concerns to the Holy Father”.

    I realize fully that the Pope is a busy man, however, I think there could have been arrangements made here to ensure that these four lay commission members had at least a few minutes to express their concerns with the Holy Father in person. I think that the fact that the trip boiled down to no more than a meeting with the Cardinal who was picked by the Pope to head the commission does not bode well for a positive outcome.

  2. Mike Mc says:

    I agree with you fully on this matter, Sylvia. Earlier I quoted Cardinal O’Mally as saying:

    “The Church must lead the way in addressing this most serious human problem by humbly making the commitment to accountability, transparency and zero tolerance, the binding commitment that no member of the clergy who has abused a child will be allowed to continue in ministry.”

    I’m still not certain what he means by “allowed to continue in ministry.” Does he mean not to ‘preach, minister’ etc but be allowed to remain a priest “sent to prayer and penance”? Or does he mean not allowed to continue in ministry as in “defrocked, laicized” etc etc.
    Because we have already seen what Pope Francis did with Father Karadima, I can only assume Cardinal O’Mally agrees with the Pope. And if he does, then I can only assume he will “agree to disagree” with these 4 delegates and tell them plainly and clearly: “Father (the pope) Knows Best!”

    See my point?

    Let me be clear: What O’Mally and the Pope should do is reassign Barros away from this new post. He (Barros) has lost the confidence of the Catholic people in Chile and around the world. I’m not sure what percentage, but it’s obvious the Church(you and me and the good catholics ofChile) needs to not only see a HOLY Priesthood but feel reassured that it IS a holy priesthood.

    I have had my doubts for quite some time now.
    For me personally, I want a cleaned up mess; a Church that gets rid of abusive priests etc and helps the victims with more than just prayer.

    Having Barros in there…whether he is guilty or not…is just NOT a smart move. It’s almost a slap in the face.

    Doesn’t the Pope see this?

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