For many, Pope Francis has been a breath of fresh air and needed change for the Catholic Church. What such takes miss, however, is all the ways in which he’s presided over more of the same, just with better public relations. For instance, consider his defense of known sexual abuse in the case of now-bishop Juan Barros.
Barros, a Catholic priest made bishop in 2015, has repeatedly been connected with past child sexual abuse, yet Pope Francis continues to defend him, going so far as to repeatedly lie on Barros’ behalf.
In fact, Francis was warned before installing Barros as bishop. Two weeks prior to Barros’ installation, Francis received a letter detailing not only Barros’ role in covering up sexual abuse of young boys, but explained how Barros’ witnessed such abuse as it happened.
Instead, though, Francis claimed he had seen no evidence against Barros, going so far as to say no one had come forward, a clear and telling lie.
According to Pope Francis,
‘The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will speak. There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is slander. Is this clear?…No one has come forward, they haven’t provided any evidence for a judgment. This is all a bit vague, it’s something that can’t be accepted.”
More specifically, he added that
“In Barros’s case, it was studied. It was restudied. And there is no evidence… I don’t have evidence to convict.”
Of particular concern are abuses committed by Fernando Karadima. The Catholic Church investigated Karadima, but even in conviction, decided too much time had passed, and so didn’t punish Karadima beyond a lifetime of “penance and prayer,” otherwise known as no punishment at all.
As one victim, Juan Carlos Cruz, wrote in his letter to the pope, Barros knew about the abuse as it occurred.
As Cruz detailed,
“When we were in a room with Karadima and Juan Barros, if he [Barros] wasn’t kissing Karadima, he watched as one of us, one of the younger ones, was touched by Karadima and forced to give him kisses…Karadima would say to me: ‘Put your mouth next to mine and stick out your tongue.’ He’d stick out his and kiss us with his tongue. Juan Barros witnessed all of this on countless occasions, not just in my case but in the case of others as well.”
Cruz’s letter goes on:
“Holy Father, Juan Barros says he saw nothing and yet, there are dozens of us who can testify to the fact that not only was he present when Karadima abused us, but that he, too, kissed Karadima and they touched each other.”
Like so many Catholic leaders before him, however, Pope Francis’ response was exactly what we’ve come to expect: A combination of silence and lies.
h/t: Friendly Atheist