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

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

Vatican CityPope Francis said Tuesday he has thought about when it might be time to "take leave" of his flock - a cryptic comment that could hint at another papal retirement down the line or a suggestion to other bishops that it's time to go.

The 34 bishops, 3 of whom are already retired, are to hold private and group meetings with the Argentine pontiff between Tuesday and Thursday.

Pope Francis may have also been referring to Chilean bishops implicated in a sex abuse cover-up scandal.

Chilean bishops told reporters on Monday they were heading into three days of meetings with Francis humbled, pained and shamed for their own errors in handling sex abuse cases by priests.

"I ask the Lord for the grace to take my leave" the same way Paul did, he said.

The victims have called for "exemplary actions" against Chilean church leaders, including Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, 84, who sits on an influential nine-member advisory panel to the pope. He sent an envoy to investigate the affair, and invited three abuse victims to the Vatican to personally say sorry.

Chilean Bishop Fernando Ramos said the meetings would address "abuse of power, abuse of conscience, and sexual abuse that have occurred in recent decades in the Chilean Church, as well as the mechanisms that led, in some cases, to concealment and serious omissions against the victims".

Possible measures include removing bishops, reforming seminaries and paying financial reparation to victims.

The unprecedented summoning of the Chilean delegation is also a chance for Francis to fix some of the damage done during his visit to Chile in January, when his defense of controversial Chilean bishop Juan Barros caused a public outcry.

Visiting Chile in January, Francis initially dismissed as "slander" victims' allegations that several local bishops covered up the crimes of Father Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican found guilty of molesting children in 2011.

Experts and sources within Chilean church suggested the Pope could remove Barros from his duties and set in motion a major shake-up of the church hierarchy within the Latin American nation.

Related Articles