By Carol Kuruvilla
When Joelle Casteix heard Pope Francis accuse sex abuse victims in Chile of slander, the pontiff’s words hit close to home.
Francis told reporters Thursday that he hasn’t seen any convincing evidence against Chile’s Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, whom victims claim protected a pedophile priest.
“The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,” Francis said during a papal trip to Chile, according to The New York Times. “But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?”
…Patrick Noaker, a lawyer who has represented dozens survivors of sexual abuse in Minnesota, said that Cruz’s testimony appears to him to be extremely powerful. That’s because when it comes to child sexual abuse, there is rarely evidence outside the testimony of the victim.
Francis’ defense of Barros is a reminder to Noaker that bishops are “the princes of the Catholic church, and they are protected at all cost.”
“The statement by the pope reveals a hard-liner position that he will protect bishops over children,” he told HuffPost in an email. “This will discourage survivors of sexual abuse from reporting their abuse because they will not have photographs or other evidence of the abuse outside of their testimony.”
Read the full report at huffingtonpost.com