'Pope Francis is under fire for his handling of a clerical sexual abuse scandal. A report has emerged saying the pontiff was handed a letter from a Chilean abuse victim detailing his ordeal and a cover-up of alleged crimes.
In the letter, seen by AP, Juan Carlos Cruz says he is a victim of cleric Fernando Karadima’s abuse in the 1980s, detailing the kissing and fondling he claims to have suffered.
Additionally, Cruz accuses Karadima’s fellow priest Juan Barros (whom Francis appointed to lead the Diocese of Osorno in 2015) of witnessing the horrific, humiliating abuse and ignoring it. Bishop Barros has repeatedly denied witnessing the abuse or covering it up.
Cruz alleged in his letter that Barros himself would be fondled by Karadima, once a prominent Chilean cleric who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for abusing minors and ordered to live a life of prayer and penance. He recalled how Karadima would kiss Barros and fondle his genitals, and then do the same with younger priests and boys. Cruz claimed that young priests and seminarians would fight to sit next to Karadima to be fondled as well.
“More difficult was when we were in Karadima’s room and Juan Barros — if he wasn’t kissing Karadima — would watch when Karadima would touch us — the minors — and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth near mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his [tongue] out and kiss us,” the letter to the pope said.
Cruz’s letter, written in the Pope’s native Spanish, is at odds with Pope Francis insisting that victims of Karadima’s crimes have never come forward to speak up about a cover-up by Bishop Barros.
“You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward,” Francis told an AP reporter on the plane to Rome last month.
“No one has come forward,” the pontiff stressed. “They haven’t provided any evidence for a judgment. This is all a bit vague. It’s something that can’t be accepted.”'
Read more: Chile sex abuse letter suggests Pope Francis knew of ‘cover-up’ in 2015
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