Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Pope Attacks Sex Abuse Victims.

Bishop Juan Barros
Pope accuses sex abuse victims of slander

In an astonishing end to his less than triumphal visit to Chile, Pope Francis shocked his hosts by, not to put too fine a point on it, calling those accusing a Catholic Bishop of assisting a cover-up of child abuse, liars.

His visit had been met with demonstrations and much smaller crowds than previous visits because the Catholic Church in Chile is currently embroiled in the now traditional clerical sex abuse of minors scandal. Police had to use tear gas and water cannons to break up one demonstration outside the Pope's open-air address in the centre of Santiago.

Briefly, a certain influential priest, Reverend Fernando Karadima, parish priest and spiritual guide to some of Santiago's most influential families habitually abused children to whom he had trusted access. During his time in office he was responsible for training 50 parish priests and four bishops, one of whom was Andrés Arteaga, later to be Vice-Chancellor of the Universidad Católica de Chile. Another of his protégé was Juan Barros Madrid.

In 1984, stories began to surface of Karadima's abuses and a group of parishioners wrote to Archbishop Juan Francisco Fresno (later Cardinal Fresno), complaining about Karadima's "improper conduct." The letter was "torn up and thrown away," according to a court statement by the parishioner. It later emerged that Cardinal Fresno's secretary was none other than Karadima's protégé, Juan Barros Madrid. And that was that until 2003.

In mid-2003, one of Karadima's parishoners, José Murillo, wrote to Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa about Karadima's abuses, assuming an investigation would be opened in line with the new guidelines issued by the Chilean Bishops Conference. Murillo's report came only months after the Chilean Bishops Conference issued procedures for handling cases of sexual abuse involving priests. Cardinal Errázuriz informed Murillo that he would pray for him and then did nothing. No investigation was opened and the new guidelines were ignored.

In June 2004 after further complaints, the first investigation into Karadima's conduct was opened by the Catholic Church. After two years, the investigator stated to the cardinal his belief that "the accusers [were] credible and suggested certain courses of action." Cardinal Errázuriz's response was to stop the investigation for more than three years, to "wait for new evidence" and because he thought the allegations were beyond the statute of limitations.

Things then got really murky. In addition to the sexual abuses, it emerged that Karadima and his associates had been deeply involved in extreme right-wing Chilean politics in the late 1960s and 70s and had been involved in the assassination of General René Schneider in 1970, in an attempt to prevent the inauguration as president of the democratically elected Marxist academic, Salavadore Allende, and then in association with the CIA, the destabilisation of Chile as a prelude to the fascist coup by the notorious mass-murderer, General Ernesto Pinochet.

According to Wikipdia:

In April 2010 a civil criminal complaint was filed by victims of sexual abuse by four men who were once devoted followers of Karadima. The Public Ministry, or attorney general's office, named special prosecutor Xavier Armendáriz. He stated that "The law will not show favoritism. The office of the accused will not influence this investigation," although the fact that the prosecutor made the disclaimer is evidence that Chileans expect the opposite.[4] After seven months of conducting the probe, the claims were dismissed by the court ruling that there was not enough evidence to charge him.

One of the claimants accused: "We would have liked to appeal, but with defense attorneys like his, who have the Appeals and Supreme Court eating out of their hands, and a number of powerful people who continue to protect Karadima, we knew it would be an uphill battle that we were likely to lose,"[5]

Karadima's defense attorney, Lawyer Juan Pablo Bulnes Cerda, is brother of Juan Luis Bulnes Cerda, sentenced in 1970 for the assassination of General René Schneider in 1970 in order to prevent Salvador Allende's inauguration. Juan Pablo Bulnes Cerda works for the law office of Ossa, Bulnes & Asociados. Juan Luis Ossa Bulnes was chief of the "Comando Rolando Matus", a paramilitary organization of the National Party (Chile, 1966–1973). It played a key role in the destabilization of the country during Allende's government.[6] The lawyers Luis Arévalo and Luis Ortiz Quiroga appeared for Karadima also, were attorneys in the 1970s for Julio Bouchon, another participant in Schneider's assassination. They worked also for Colonia Dignidad.[6] According to James Hamilton, one of the claimants, Karadima protected and hid Juan Luis Bulnes Cerda, as he was wanted by the Chilean police in 1970.


In dropping the case because too much time had passes according to Chile's statute of limitation, the judge had said that it was not due to lack of evidence and that the witnesses were credible.

In 2011 the Vatican also concluded that the witnesses were credible and stripped Karadima of all priestly duties and powers and sentenced him to a lifetime of penance and prayer for sexually molesting minors.

During his visit, Pope Francis spoke of his "pain and shame" that some Chilean clergy had abused minors but he failed to name them or refer to the fact that the then Archbishop of Santiago, Francisco Javier Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa, knew of the allegations against Karadima but did not remove him from office. However, just before leaving and in a speach which has shocked even some of his allies, Pope Francis said:

The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak. There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?

It's all calumny!

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. These people are truly crazy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty.

Juan Carlos Cruz,
One of Kadima's victims and Bishop Barros's most vocal accuser
In other words, it's all mendacious lies. The evidence that the judge in the Karadima case found to be credible; the evidence on which Karadima was sentenced to a lifetime of penance and prayer and stripped of his office over, was all lies; all made up and mendacious, according to Pope Francis.

It's not difficult to see where 'honest' Uncle Frankie's sympathies still lie - just where the Vatican's sympathies always lay until the sex abuse scandals reached such epic proportions that they began to bankrupt diocese after diocese with compensation claims, were causing a haemorrhage of membership and drying up the supply of new priests because decent young men did not want to be associates with such a corrupt and depraved organisation, and would-be abusers realised the good times were over.

As the Premier article points out:

Catholic officials for years accused victims of slandering and attacking the church with their claims. But up until Francis' words on Thursday, many in the church and Vatican had come to reluctantly acknowledge that victims usually told the truth and that the church for decades had wrongly sought to protect its own.

Pope Francis appears not to have moved far from that victim-blame-and-shame mentality.

Reaction to Pope Francis's astonishing accusation has been swift:

[It was] sad and wrong [for the pope to discredit the victims since] the burden of proof here rests with the church, not the victims - and especially not with victims whose veracity has already been affirmed. He has just turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis. Who knows how many victims now will decide to stay hidden, for fear they will not be believed?

Anne Barrett Doyle, of the online database BishopAccountability.org

Even the Pope's own adviser on clerical sex abuse, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, described his words as "A source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse", although he added, in an attempt to lessen the damage:

[Pope Francis] fully recognises the egregious failures of the church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones.

It's a shame Pope Francis fails to recognise the damage accusing the victims of lying causes, and the abuses that mentality facilitates. It's the mentality that allows letters of complaint to be torn up; that allows abusers to remain in positions of trust and continue abusing; that promotes and protects those who participate in cover-ups. And perhaps more importantly, it fails to address and redress the harm done to the victims of abusers and prevent further abuses.


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