IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PERU (CNS) -- Pope Francis
apologized to victims of clergy sex abuse, saying he unknowingly wounded them by
the way he defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse by his
Speaking with journalists on his flight to Rome from Lima,
Peru, Jan. 21, the pope said he only realized later that his words erroneously implied that victims' accusations are credible only with concrete
"To hear that the pope says to their face, 'Bring me a
letter with proof,' is a slap in the face," the pope said.
Pope Francis was referring to a response he gave in Iquique,
Chile, Jan. 18 when local reporters asked about his support for Bishop Juan
Barros of Osorno, given accusations that the bishop may have been aware of
abuse perpetrated by his former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. The priest was
sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found
guilty of sexually abusing boys.
"The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I
will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny. Is
that clear?" the pope had told the reporters in Iquique.
His response provoked further outrage, especially from
Father Karadima's victims who said the pope's response made his earlier apologies
for the church's failure to protect sex abuse victims seem hollow.
Asked about the incident during the flight back to Rome,
Pope Francis said he meant to use the word "evidence," not
"proof." The way he phrased his response, he said, caused confusion
and was "not the best word to use to approach a wounded heart."
"Of course, I know that there are many abused people
who cannot bring proof (or) they don't have it," he said. "Or at times
they have it but they are ashamed and cover it up and suffer in silence. The
tragedy of the abused is tremendous."
However, the pope told reporters on the papal flight that he
still stood firmly behind his defense of Bishop Barros, because he was "personally
convinced" of the bishop's innocence after the case was investigated twice
with no evidence emerging.
Pope Francis said that while "covering up abuse is an
abuse in itself," if he punished Bishop Barros without moral certainty,
"I would be committing the crime of a bad judge."
During the inflight news conference, Pope Francis answered eight
questions over the course of an hour, although the conference was interrupted
by turbulence, which forced the pope to sit for about five minutes.
As he did in November on his return from Bangladesh, he said
he only wanted to respond to questions related to the trip.
Pope Francis told reporters he appreciated the statement
made Jan. 20 by Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, president of the Pontifical
Commission for the Protection of Minors, acknowledging the pain survivors of
abuse felt because of the pope's statement about Bishop Barros.
"Words that convey the message 'If you cannot prove
your claims then you will not be believed' abandon those who have suffered
reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors
to discredited exile," the cardinal wrote.
He also said, "Pope Francis fully recognizes 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."
The pope said he was grateful for Cardinal O'Malley's
statement because it struck the right balance between listing what he has done to
show his support for sex abuse victims and the pain experienced by victims
because of the pope's remarks.
Pope Francis also spoke about the scandal-plagued Sodalitium
Christianae Vitae, a Catholic movement based in Peru.
The movement's founder, Luis Fernando Figari, has been
accused of the sexual and psychological abuse of members; he has been ordered by
the Vatican to remain in Rome and not have any contact with the movement.
"He declared himself innocent of the charges against
him," Pope Francis told reporters, and he has appealed his cause to the
Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's supreme court. According to the information
the pope has received, he said, "the verdict will be released in less than
Pope Francis also was asked about the status of the
Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he set up in 2014.
The three-year terms of its members expired in December and some have
questioned whether child protection really is a priority when the commission's
membership was allowed to lapse.
Before the terms ended, he said, the members decided to
recommend who should serve a second term and offering the names of possible new
The final list, he said, arrived on his desk a week before
the trip began "and now it is going through the normal channels in the
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IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Barbara J. FraserLIMA, Peru (CNS) -- Pope Francis
took his message of hope to this sprawling, dusty capital of Peru, celebrating
Mass within view of the rocky, waterless Andean slopes where most of the city's
poorest residents live.
The day's Scripture readings, in
which Jonah was sent to Nineveh and Jesus set out toward Galilee, "reveal a
God who turns his gaze toward cities, past and present," the pope said in
Crowds lined the pope's route to
the Las Palmas military base, where thousands of people arrived during the
night and throughout the morning to participate in the Mass.
Lima's heat and blazing sun did
not wither the spirits of the estimated 1.3 million Mass attendees, who chanted
and sang as they waited for the liturgy to begin.
Mariana Costa of Lima felt fortunate.
She had missed a chance to see Pope Francis in Poland, she said, "and now
I have the opportunity to see him in my own country."
As a young adult, she was
touched by his words to youth.
"Ultimately, we're the ones
who have to work to make sure this faith is not lost," she said.
Sister Maria Lucero of Lima was
struck by three messages the pope had for the priests, religious and
seminarians with whom he met in Trujillo the day before.
"He said to remember what
we are (and spoke of) joy and gratitude to God for everything we have and do
not deserve," she said.
His words kindled a desire to
renew her efforts, "because the people here need it," she said.
The scores of concelebrants
included Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, who was in Lima to celebrate the 60th
anniversary of the founding of the Boston-based Missionary Society of St. James
the Apostle, whose priests have worked in many Latin American countries,
including Peru. Cardinal O'Malley had spoken out Jan. 20 about Pope Francis'
defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse. The cardinal
said he understood why victims were hurt by the pope's words.
The place where Pope Francis
presided at the liturgy is not far from the vast neighborhood of Villa El
Salvador, where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1985, when it was a dusty
shantytown in which community leaders, many of whom were active in parishes, were
threatened by terrorist violence.
The poorest neighborhoods form
rings around Lima and other Latin American cities, as people migrate from other
parts of the country in search of opportunities.
Most build their own houses bit
by bit, sometimes in hazardous areas vulnerable to disasters, like the unusual
rains in early 2017 that left thousands homeless on the east side of Lima and in
cities such as Trujillo, which the pope visited Jan. 20.
The majority also work in the
informal economy, eking out a living with day labor, selling goods in markets
or working in small, family-run businesses with no health insurance, pension or
The pope spoke to them when he talked
of "our cities, with their daily situations of pain and injustice,"
which "can leave us tempted to flee, to hide, to run away."
While some people can to build
their lives, others are left "living on the fringes of our cities and
lacking the conditions needed for a dignified existence," he said. "It
is painful to realize that among these 'urban remnants' all too often we see
the faces of children and adolescents. We look at the face of the future."
Seeing those things, people may
be tempted to become "indifferent, anonymous and deaf to others, cold and
hard of heart," he said.
Jesus, who entered Galilee upon
hearing of John the Baptist's arrest, and shows a different way to respond, he
Jesus "began to sow the
seed of a great hope," and the rippling effect of that joy and good news
has been passed down through the apostles and saints, including St. Rose of
Lima and St. Martin of Porres, whose relics he venerated in the morning, Pope
"It has come to us as a timely
antidote to the globalization of indifference," he said. "In the face
of that love, one cannot remain indifferent."
Walking through the city with
his disciples, Jesus saw people who had "given up in the face of
indifference, laid low by the grave sin of corruption," Pope Francis said.
"He begins to bring light to many situations that had killed the hope of
his people and to awaken a new hope."
Jesus taught his disciples to
see things they had overlooked before and to notice new needs, he said.
kingdom of heaven means finding in Jesus a God who gets involved with the lives
of his people."
His words rang especially true
after six days in which he raised issues such as corruption, rapacious
consumerism, environmental devastation, organized crime, violence against women
and industrial activities such as mining and industrial agriculture, which strip
indigenous peoples of their lands and livelihoods.
As he often does, the pope
challenged bishops and clergy to avoid clericalism and walk closely with the
people. He called on government officials to listen to and respond to the needs
of native peoples, youth, the elderly and children.
Jesus "continues to walk on
our streets. He knocks today, as he did yesterday, on our doors and hearts, in
order to rekindle the flame of hope," the pope told the throng of
"Today the Lord calls each
of you to walk with him in the city, in your city. He invites you to become his
missionary disciple, so you can become part of that great whisper that wants to
keep echoing in the different corners of our lives: Rejoice, the Lord is with
Fraser on Twitter: @Barbara_Fraser.- - -Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho Esteves
SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- Pope Francis met in
private Jan. 16 with survivors of sexual abuse by Chilean clergy, a Vatican
spokesman said, but his actions threatened to be overshadowed by controversy
over a Chilean bishop.
Greg Burke, the spokesman, said the pope met
with "a small group of victims of sexual abuse by priests" at the
apostolic nunciature in Santiago, Chile.
"The meeting took place in a strictly
private way, and no one else was present: only the pope and the victims,"
Burke told journalists that evening.
The private setting, he added, allowed the
group to speak freely with the pope "and recount their sufferings.
Pope Francis "listened, prayed and
cried with them," Burke said.
Also present at the press conference was
Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the
Chilean bishops' conference.
Bishop Ramos addressed criticism regarding
the presence of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno at several papal events, including
the pope's meetings with the country's clergy as well as the bishops of Chile.
Bishop Barros' appointment as bishop by the
pope in 2015 drew outrage and protests due to his connection to Father Fernando
Karadima, his former mentor. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer
and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.
"Bishop Barros is bishop of Osorno and
was named by the pope. All bishops have the right and responsibility to
participate at the events. That was the only reason why" he was present,
Bishop Ramos said.
Arriving in Iquique Jan. 18 at the site of
his final Mass in Chile, Pope Francis was asked by local journalists about his
support for Bishop Barros.
The pope reiterated that he has yet to see
any evidence that Bishop Barros knew or witnessed the abuses committed by his
"The day they bring me proof against
Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It
is calumny. Is that clear?" the pope told the journalists.
On Jan. 20, Boston Cardinal Sean P.
O'Malley, "It is understandable that Pope Francis' statements yesterday in
Santiago, Chile, were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by
clergy or any other perpetrator. Words that convey the message 'If you cannot
prove your claims then you will not be believed' abandon those who have
suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate
survivors to discredited exile.
"Not having been personally involved in
the cases that were the subject of yesterday's interview, I cannot address why
the Holy Father chose the particular words he used at that time. What I do
know, however, is that Pope Francis fully recognizes 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," Cardinal O'Malley
Cardinal O'Malley was traveling to Peru on a
previously scheduled trip. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said the
trip was not related to his statement on Bishop Barros, but that he expected
the cardinal would "be with the Holy Father at some point, as he normally
is when he accompanies him on a papal trip."
Pope Francis named Cardinal O'Malley
president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors when he
established the body in 2014. The initial members' terms of office expired in
December and, as of mid-January, the Vatican had not announced new members.
Earlier Jan. 16, the pope asked forgiveness
from the victims of sexual abuse during an address to government authorities
and members of Chile's diplomatic corps, expressing his "pain and shame at
the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."
Burke said it was significant the pope
addressed the issue of clergy sex abuse during his meeting with government
authorities "because normally he speaks about it when meeting with bishops
"The fact that he spoke there means
that it is an evil not only for the church but for society," Burke said.
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IMAGE: CNS/Kevin Lamarque, ReutersBy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- In remarks broadcast to the March
for Life from the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump said that his
administration "will always defend the very first right in the Declaration
of Independence, and that is the right to life."
He invoked the theme of this year's march, "Love
Saves Lives," and praised the crowd as being very special and "such
great citizens gathered in our nation's capital from many places for one
beautiful cause" -- celebrating and cherishing life.
"Every unborn child is a precious gift
from God," he said, his remarks interrupted several times by applause from
the crowd gathered on the National Mall. He praised the pro-lifers for having
"such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure parents have the
support they need to choose life."
"You're living witnesses of this year's March
for Life theme, 'Love Saves Lives,'" he said. His remarks were broadcast to the crowd
live via satellite to a Jumbotron above the speakers' stage, a first for any
U.S. president, according to March for Life.
During their tenure in office, President Ronald
Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush all addressed
the march via telephone or a radio hookup from the Oval Office, with their
remarks broadcast to the crowd.
Trump spoke with a crowd surrounding him in the Rose
Garden, including 20 students from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North
Dakota. One of those standing next to the president was a Marianne Donadio, a top
official with Room at the Inn,
a nationally accredited Catholic ministry based in North Carolina that serves
homeless, pregnant women and single mothers with children.
Vice President Mike Pence, who addressed last year's
March for Life in person at Trump's request, introduced the president as the
"most pro-life president in American history," for among other things
issuing an executive memorandum shortly after his inauguration to reinstate the
"Mexico City Policy." The policy bans all foreign nongovernmental
organizations receiving U.S. funds from performing or promoting abortion as a
method of family planning in other countries.
Trump also has nominated pro-life judges to fill
several court vacancies and a day before the March for Life the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services announced formation of a new Conscience and
Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights. Its aim is to
protect the conscience rights of doctors and other health care workers who do
not want to perform procedures they consider morally objectionable.
For the first time in a recent memory, the weather in
Washington was more than tolerable for March for Life participants as they
gathered on the National Mall to mark the anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme
Court decision legalizing abortion. The sun was shining and the blue sky was
cloudless. By the time the speeches ended and the march to the Supreme Court
started, the temperature had reached 50 degrees.
Mancini, president of March for Life, opened the rally by calling on
everyone in the crowd to text the word "March" to 7305 and to show their
commitment to ending abortion and join their voices in calling on Congress to
defund Planned Parenthood.
"Do you agree that's important?" she asked
the crowd. "Yes!" they shouted. March for Life, she said, is about
educating people about abortion and mobilizing to end it and to love all those
women and families who are facing a troubled pregnancy and other needs.
"'Love Saves Lives' is this year's theme,"
she added. "Love and sacrifice go hand in hand It is not easy. No one ever
said it was, but it is the right choice ... the self-sacrificial option."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, was among several
others who addressed the crowd.
"Thank God for giving us a pro-life president in
the White House," the Catholic congressman said.
"Your energy is so infectious," he told the
crowd, praising them for being "the vigor and enthusiasm of the pro-life
Seeing so many young people "is so inspiring
because it tells us this a movement on the rise," he said. "Why is
the pro-life movement on the rise? Because truth is on our side. Life begins at
conception. Science is on our side."
Herrera Beutler, R-Washington, gave an emotional speech about the
troubled pregnancy she faced about four years ago. She and her husband, Dan,
were told their unborn child had severe defects, that the baby's kidneys would
never develop and the lungs were undeveloped because of a rare condition.
Abortion was their only option, they were told.
Today, that baby is 4-year-old Abigail. She and her
younger brother and their father stood on the stage with the congresswoman.
"Dan and I prayer and we cried (at the news of
their unborn child's condition) ... and in that devastation we saw hope. What
if God would do a miracle? What if a doctor was willing to try something new?
Like saline infusions to mimic amniotic fluid so kidneys could develop?"
With "true divine intervention and some very
courageous doctors willing to take a risk we get to experience our daughter,
Abigail," Herrera Beutler said. She is a very "healthy, happy
4-year-old big sister who some day is going to be 'the boss of mommy's
work,'" she said.
Herrera Beutler asked the crowd to imagine that 45
years of legal abortion had not existed and that 60 million babies had not been
lost to abortion, and if out of those people had come those who could cure
cancer and correct all manner of disabling conditions, including those that
exist in utero, and eradicate poverty.
"What richness we would we get to see instead of
two generations missing," she added.
Another Catholic member of Congress and longtime
pro-life advocate, Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, described the last 45 years
of legal abortion as Orwellian.
"Every one of you here today" and millions
of others throughout the country and world, he said, "are an integral part
of the greatest human rights struggle on earth. Because we pray, because we
fast, we will win. Babies will be protected."- - -Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Barbara J. FraserPUERTO MALDONADO, Peru (CNS) -- Pope
Francis called on indigenous people of the Amazon to work with missionaries and
bishops to shape a church with an "Amazonian and indigenous" face.
The pope pledged the church's "whole-hearted
option for the defense of life, the defense of the earth and the defense of
cultures" and called his audience to work together toward the Synod of
Bishops for the Amazon, which he has called for 2019.
"The native Amazonian peoples
have probably never been so threatened on their own lands as they are at
present," Pope Francis said. "Amazonia is not only a reserve of
biodiversity, but also a cultural reserve that must be preserved in the face of
the new forms of colonialism."
He also called for a change in
the consumer culture that extracts resources from the Amazon without regard for
the people who live there, and he had harsh words for officials who consider
indigenous people an obstacle to development.
"Your lives cry out against
a style of life that is oblivious to its own real cost," the pope told the
audience of some 2,500 indigenous people from Peru, Brazil and Bolivia.
Upon his arrival in this
Amazonian town, the pope was welcomed by children who chanted, "Pope
Francis is Amazonian now." Once in Madre de Dios stadium, dancers in
feathered headdresses accompanied him as he greeted the crowd.
Members of various indigenous
peoples presented the pope with gifts that reflected their culture, including a
basket, painting, book and woven stole. The pope left the stadium wearing a
feathered headdress and strings of beads typically worn by community chiefs,
presented to him by Santiago Manuin Valera, an Awajun leader from northern Peru.
The pope said he had come to
listen to the people of this Amazonian region, which is rich in natural
resources and indigenous cultures but increasingly devastated by illegal
mining, deforestation and social problems.
A Harakbut woman and man and an
Awajun woman described the threats their peoples face from outsiders who take
timber and other resources from their lands, as well as their fear that their
cultures could disappear and their efforts to keep those cultures alive
The pope echoed their concerns,
listing oil and gas, mining, logging, industrial agriculture and even
conservation programs as activities that do not take indigenous peoples into
account, but "strangle" them and force young people to migrate
because of a lack of alternatives.
"We have to break with the
historical paradigm that views Amazonia as an inexhaustible source of supplies
for other countries without concern for its inhabitants," he said.
On his journey to the Amazon,
the pope flew over an area where illegal gold mining has carved huge, cratered,
polluted scars visible from outer space. He noted that the mining has been
accompanied by the trafficking of people for sex and labor.
The day before his visit, in a
meeting with Amazonian bishops, representatives of various indigenous delegations
said they hoped the pope would urge governments to respect their rights,
especially by demarcating their territories and respecting laws requiring
officials to consult indigenous communities about development projects that
would affect them.
Without mentioning titling or
prior consent laws directly, the pope called for "institutional
expressions" of respect and dialogue with native peoples.
"Recognition and dialogue
will be the best way to transform relationships whose history is marked by
exclusion and discrimination," he said.
The pope praised the church's
work among native peoples in the Amazon, although he acknowledged errors. In
many parts of the Amazon, missionaries started the first schools for indigenous
While noting that education and
building schools is the government's job, Pope Francis urged the Amazonian
bishops to continue to encourage intercultural and bilingual education in
schools, universities and teacher training programs.
Echoing the Harakbut speakers
who had greeted him, he emphasized that education for native people must "build
bridges and create a culture of encounter," in a way that "respects
and integrates their ancestral wisdom as a treasure belonging to the whole
The pope praised young
indigenous people who are "working to reinterpret the history of their
peoples from their own perspective," as well as those who "show the
world your worldview and your cultural richness" through art, music,
crafts and literature.
"Much has been written and
spoken about you," he said. "It is good that you are now the ones to
define yourselves and show us your identity. We need to listen to you."
The pope urged his listeners,
many of whom are pastoral agents in remote rural communities and poor urban
areas, not to let their people's Catholic faith be uprooted. Each culture "enriches
the church by showing a new aspect of Christ's face," he said.
Pope Francis encouraged them to
draw on the wisdom of their peoples, especially elders, to counter the
pressures they face and to dialogue with missionaries and bishops.
"We need the native peoples
to shape the culture of the local churches in Amazonia," he said.
- - -
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@Barbara_Fraser.- - -Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.