VATICAN CITY — In a letter addressed to Chile’s bishops, Pope Francis admitted to making “serious mistakes” in handling the nation’s massive sex abuse crisis and asked for forgiveness.
The Holy Father summoned Chile’s bishops to Rome to address the issue, and invited victims to meet with him, as well.
Referring to a recent investigation of abuse cover-up in Chile carried out by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Pope Francis said that after a “slow reading” of the report, “I can affirm that all the testimonies collected speak in a stark manner, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and I confess that this has caused me pain and shame.”
Francis admitted to misjudging the severity of the affair, telling Chile’s bishops that “I have made serious mistakes in the judgement and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information.”
He asked the bishops to “faithfully communicate” this recognition, and he apologized to all those he might have offended.
In addition, he summoned all of Chile’s 32 bishops to Rome to discuss the conclusions of Archbishop Scicluna’s report in the third week of May, where they will discussion the conclusions of the report as well the Pope’s own conclusions on the matter.
In his letter, signed April 8, Divine Mercy Sunday, Francis said he wants the meeting to be “a fraternal moment, without prejudices or preconceived ideas, with the sole objective of making the truth shine in our lives.”
The decision to summon an entire bishops’ conference to Rome is remarkably significant. Nothing of the nature has happened since April 2002, when John Paul II met with 12 of 13 U.S. cardinals, eight of whom headed major dioceses, and two high-level representatives of the USCCB at the Vatican to address the abuse crisis in the United States, and told them they had handled the situation wrong.