Pope Defends Chilean Bishop Accused of Covering Up Pedophile Priest Case.

Press. voanews.com
Pope Francis has forcefully defended Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, who has been accused of concealing a priest's sexual abuse of children, saying he has no evidence the allegations are true. "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will speak," the pope said in response to a reporter's question Thursday about Barros prior to celebrating an open-air mass in the northern Chilean city of Iquique.

Chile's most infamous pedophile priest, Fernando Karadima, was given a lifetime of "penance and prayer" during a church proceeding when victims publicly disclosed their accusations in 2010 following years of complaints to leaders that he kissed and fondled them when they were teenagers. Many Chileans are still angry about the pope's 2015 decision to appoint Barros, a Karadima protege, as bishop of the southern city of Osorno. Barros' controversial appointment has divided the diocese, as he has denied being aware of Karadima's abuse, and local Catholic groups in his southern diocese of Osorno are demanding that Francis remove him.

But the anger did not stop the pope from offering his unwavering support of the 61-year-old bishop. "There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is slander. Is this clear?" One of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, said Barros "is a liar, a delinquent, who has amnesia after covering up for Karadima. He has covered-up abuses and should be in jail or at least dismissed." Barros, who was attending the mass with hundreds of other bishops and clergy, has had a conspicuous presence at both of the pope's previous open-air masses and his meeting with clergy at the Santiago cathedral.
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