The Latest: U.S. group criticizes pope over victim letter
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The latest on an Associated Press report that Pope Francis received detailed testimony from a sex abuse survivor in 2015, despite having insisted he never heard from victims (all times local):
The head of a U.S.-based group that has compiled a clergy abuse database says revelations that Pope Francis heard directly from a sex abuse survivor despite insisting he had never heard from victims points to “inexcusable dysfunction at best and willful deception at worst.”
The Associated Press reported Monday that Francis received a letter in 2015 from Juan Carlos Cruz of Chile. The letter detailed his abuse by a priest and alleged that the current bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros, witnessed and ignored it.
Anne Barrett Doyle is co-director of BishopAccountability.org. She says the “distressing and more likely explanation is that the pope lied.”
She says Pope Francis was intentionally deceptive during his recent visit to Chile as well as a news conference on the way home in which “he said he had seen no evidence of Barros’ complicity.”
A lay Catholic group in southern Chile that has opposed a bishop accused of sex abuse cover-up says revelations by The Associated Press that Pope Francis heard directly from a victim about the problem “brings an end to his ‘zero tolerance’ rhetoric.”
Juan Carlos Claret, a spokesman for Laicos de Osorno, said Monday that the pope and his subordinates must now answer the question of “who decided to constantly discredit the testimony of the victims.”
Claret told the AP: “It’s not possible to maintain, as some do, that the pope didn’t know and that he had slanted information.
“Instead, we’re in the presence of a pope who had full knowledge of it all, and still decides to submit a community to unspeakable suffering.”
The AP reported Monday that Francis received a letter in 2015 from Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz. The letter detailed his abuse and how the future bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros, allegedly witnessed and ignored it.
The Associated Press has learned that Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed his sexual abuse and a cover-up by Chilean church authorities — contradicting the pope’s insistence that no victims had come forward.
AP obtained the letter from Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz. Members of the pope’s sex-abuse advisory commission say they flew to Rome in 2015 specifically to hand-deliver the letter to a top papal adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Cruz and commission members say O’Malley assured them he had delivered it to the pope.
Francis recently sparked an outcry by vigorously defending Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused by victims of covering up for Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest. Francis said he had never heard from victims about Barros’ behavior.