Pope meets with sex abuse victims in Santiago

Pope meets with sex abuse victims in Santiago

More than 500,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony in Santiago's O'Higgins Park, according to Chilean newspaper The Santiago Times.

Francis told the women during the visit Tuesday that everyone's a sinner, and that change is always possible.

Chileans' disenchantment has even affected their views of the pope himself. The pope traveled in a black sedan to the center of the city, flanked by several cars.

A man dressed as the pope and two other people dressed as nuns unfurled a banner from the balcony of a nearby building that read: "Francis, accomplice of pedophile crimes".

As he has in the past, Barros also said he did not witness any abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and a group of lawmakers and other government officials applauded Francis during his meeting with them at La Moneda palace for his profession of "pain and shame" over Catholic priests' sexual abuse of children in Chile.

Moises Lopez, a 35-year-old musician, took a bus from northern Chile to Santiago in hopes of seeing the pontiff.

However, there was no specific mention of the Mapuche, with whom the pope is scheduled to meet Wednesday during a visit to Temuco, over 600 kilometers (370 miles) south of the capital Santiago.

Francis started the day with a speech in which he pleaded for forgiveness for the "irreparable damage" done to children who were raped and molested by priests.

Police in Chile's capital are arresting dozens of protesters near a square where Pope Francis is celebrating Mass.


Francis, who arrived in Chile on Monday, also called for respect of the rights and culture of indigenous peoples during his address.

In all nine churches have now been attacked.

In recent years, the Mapuche have burned churches to agitate for the return of ancestral lands and recognition of their language.

It's the pope's first visit to the Andean nation of 17 million people since taking the reins of the church in 2013.

The US-based NGO Bishop Accountability said ahead of the visit that nearly 80 Roman Catholic clergy members had been accused of sexually abusing children in Chile since 2000.

Earlier, the 81-year-old pontiff said: "I can not begin to express the pain and shame that I feel over the irreparable harm caused to children by some ministers of the church", vowing to commit to ensure the abuses would never happen again. He and others inside the Vatican speak openly of a Chilean church "in crisis" as a result, a remarkable admission of the scandal's toll on a church that wielded such political clout that it helped stave off laws legalizing divorce and abortion until recently.

No group has claimed responsibility for the fire bombings, but Chilean socialist groups have also expressed strong anti-Catholic sentiment and played a major role in the protests, pointing to the church's history of sexual abuse as a historical example of what they asses is the church's predominantly negative role on Chile.

The pope has been criticized for elevating Father Barros to bishop in 2015 despite being aware of the allegations against him.

Francis told them that the scandal had not only caused pain in the victims, but in the broader church community and among anyone who wears a clerical collar. "It is surprising that the pope and his entourage don't understand that they need to be more forthcoming on this issue".

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