Pope meets with Chilean Bishops to answer sex abuse 'crisis'

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"There are people who are victims of abuse and this causes us profound pain and shame", Ramos added.

"It does not depend on us".

A Vatican statement said that at the start of the meeting, the pope handed each bishop a list of themes on which they should meditate and pray before the start of the next encounter Wednesday. In the letter, Pope Francis apologized for underestimating the seriousness of the sexual abuse crisis in the country after calling for a new investigation into allegations that Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno was guilty of covering up for Father Karadima, his former mentor.

During his trip to Chile in January, the pope said he had no proof against Barros, believed he was innocent, and that accusations against him were "slander" until proven otherwise.

It is fundamental to restore trust in the Church through good pastors who testify with their life that they have heard the voice of the Good Pastor, who know how to accompany the suffering of the victims and to work decidedly and tirelessly on the prevention of abuses.

Errazuriz is accused by Karadima's victims of ignoring and helping to cover up the abuses committed by Karadima.

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Two weeks ago, Francis hosted at Santa Marta the three main whistleblowers in the Chilean scandal: Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo.

Media reports in Chile initially indicated that Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago and a member of Pope Francis' worldwide Council of Cardinals, would not attend the meeting.

The priest who summarized the findings at the evening meeting told the pope that a lack of education in the faith was identified by numerous groups; that lack was seen regarding basic church teachings but also regarding how the Gospel and its values could be brought to bear on modern problems.

In a stern statement last Saturday, the Vatican indicated that the pope meant to be tough. He also wanted to examine "the mechanisms that led to some cases of cover-up and the grave omissions concerning victims".

"When I read this, I think about myself", Pope Francis said, "because I am a bishop and I must take my leave and step down".

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