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  • The Pope met with five Chilean bishops during the first session with the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile Monday.

    The Pope met with five Chilean bishops during the first session with the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile Monday. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 January 2019

The Chilean delegation met with the pope to discuss the events of 2018, namely sexual abuse scandals.

Pope Francis is dialoguing with members of Chile’s Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference in hopes to overcome the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal which was revealed last year.

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Secretary-General, Msgr. Fernando Ramos said the first session was fruitful and interesting, "We did a review together with him of the important events for the Chilean Church in the last year.

"Then we explained the path we are following for this year and the next one of ecclesial discernment, to conclude in 2020 with an ecclesial assembly. The Pope made us several interesting suggestions that show great concern and affection for the Chilean Church,” said Ramos.

The Chilean delegation met with the Roman Pontiff on very different terms last January after the first of over 100 sexual child abuse claims rained down on 73 bishops, clerics, and lay workers associated with the Catholic Church.

At the time, the Pope staunchly defended his bishops, particularly Osorno’s Bishop Juan Barros, “The day they bring me a test against Bishop Barros, I'll talk there. There is not a single proof against, everything is slander, is that clear?”

However reports and testimonies lead to 34 resignations and since then, the Pope has been more actively denouncing the rising number of scandals.

The Church has been hit by a series of child abuse scandals in recent years, with widespread allegations of cover-ups, including against the Pope himself.

In an interview with German TV, Cardinal Raymond Burke criticized the Pope’s “confusing” behavior around the crisis. Pope Benedict was “very clear on this [matter of abuse],” the bishop said.

“We must get to the bottom of this. Those who were responsible for the scandal have to take responsibility and certainly cannot remain in authority. They must make reparation for the great harm they have inflicted upon the Church,” Burke said.

Victims of priest sex abuse have been invited to this year's C9 Council of Cardinals meeting in February, the Pope said in December, adding that the conference will discuss the importance of protecting minors.

Helmut Kramr, a spokesman for the Network of Survivors of Ecclesiastical Abuses of Chile, noted that although the Church has become more transparent around these crimes, no real change has been realized.

"The attitude of the Vatican has not been so different, there has not been real collaboration, there has only been a change in Chilean society, in the eyes of the survivors who for the first time brought us together in the network, but on the part of the Vatican there not has been a real change,” Kramr said.

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