The recent report that Pope Francis was aware that there was a report that Chilean Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in his mentor’s sexual abuse of a boy, is clear evidence that reform of the Catholic Church will have to come from outside the Catholic hierarchy. The recent report indicates that Pope Francis received a letter where a man reported that Bishop Barros had observed Fr. Fernando Karadima sexually abuse the man when he was a boy. According to Newsweek and other media sources, Pope Francis received this report prior to appointing Barros as a Bishop.
Only two weeks ago Pope Francis publicly shamed Chilean Catholics for accusing Bishop Barros of complicity in the sexual abuse of Chilean Catholic children. According to Pope Francis, there was no evidence supporting these allegations and that they were “slander.” Nowhere does Pope Francis state that he had received a direct report about Bishop Barros’ cover-up of Fr. Karadima’s sex crimes.
There is nothing new about the Pope’s tactics in covering for his Bishops. Clearly, the Pope chooses Bishops over the safety of Catholic children. It is just as clear that child protection reforms within the Catholic hierarchy will have to come from the outside. Survivors of sexual abuse and courts will have to force the Catholic hierarchy to root out the cancer of sexually abusive priests, because it is clear that the leadership will not.