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On eve of investigation, Vatican says pope meets sex abuse victims often

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis commonly meets with victims of sexual abuse, the Vatican mentioned on Thursday, a disclosure that follows intense criticism of his protection of a Chilean bishop accused of protecting up abuse.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed feedback the pope made in non-public throughout a go to to Peru final month which had been reported on Thursday by Civilta Cattolica, a journal of the Jesuit non secular order.

“The Holy Father meets victims of sexual abuse, either individually or in groups, several times a month,” Burke mentioned in a press release, including that the pope “tries to help them heal the grave wounds caused by the abuses they suffered.”

Remarks the pope made final month have created one of the best picture crises of his papacy, which marks its fifth anniversary subsequent month.

Francis initially mentioned accusations in opposition to the Chilean bishop had been “slander” and instructed reporters aboard his aircraft coming back from Latin America the Vatican had acquired no concrete proof in opposition to him.

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis waves earlier than boarding the aircraft, in Lima, Peru January 21, 2018. The writing on the aircraft reads “#TheFlightOfFrancis.” REUTERS/Pilar Olivares/File Photo

But days later, in a outstanding U-turn, he appointed the Church’s most skilled sexual abuse investigator to look into the accusations that Bishop Juan Barros of the diocese of Osorno in Chile had lined up sexual crimes in opposition to minors.

The investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, begins his work in New York on Saturday when he is because of meet Juan Carlos Cruz, who says he was sexually abused when he was a teen in Chile by a priest known as Fernando Karadima.

Karadima was discovered responsible in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing teenage boys over a few years. Karadima all the time denied the allegations and Barros denied accusations that he witnessed Karadima finishing up the abuse after which tried to cowl it up.

The Vatican banned Karadima from public ministry and ordered him to comply with a life of prayer and penitence, however he averted felony prosecution as a result of beneath Chilean regulation an excessive amount of time had elapsed because the offences. Now 87, he nonetheless lives in Chile.

In a phone interview with Reuters from his house within the United States final week, Cruz mentioned Pope Francis had “set the clock back years and years” with feedback made in Chile that forged doubt on the credibility of victims of abuse.

During his go to, the pope testily instructed a Chilean reporter: “The day I see proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?”

Francis later apologized to victims, acknowledging that his selection of phrases and tone of voice had “wounded many”.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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