Pope meets priests from cult in Chile
VATICAN CITY â" Pope Francis is digging deeper into the roots of Chileâs sex-abuse scandal by meeting with priests who were trained in a cultlike Catholic community and suffered psychological and sexual abuse there.
Francis celebrated Mass on Saturday with three priests trained by the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a powerful preacher in Chile who was sentenced by the Vatican in 2011 to a lifetime of penance and prayer for having sexually and spiritually abused young parishioners through an abuse of power.
The Vatican said the Mass and subsequent weekend meetings would help Francis better understand life inside Karadimaâs El Bosque community, which catered to the rich and powerful of Santiago society during and after the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
A Vatican statement said Francis is hoping to help heal the divisions that the El Bosque scandal has created in Chileâs church and help rebuild heal thy relationships between the priests and their flock âonce they become conscious of their own wounds.â
El Bosque generated some 30 priests and four bishops before Karadima was removed from ministry and a priestly society affiliated with El Bosque was closed. The recent revelation of the scandal has focused on one of the four bishops, Juan Barros, after Francis strongly defended him only to then admit he had made grave errors in judgment.
But Francisâ meetings this weekend with priests trained by Karadima, as well as some other members of El Bosque, suggests he is trying to better understand the dynamics of a cultlike religious community where the abuse of power and spiritual abuse left lasting damage on victims even if they were not sexually molested.