VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Critics are claiming Pope Francis has lost credibility after reports revealed he received a letter from a Chilean sex abuse victim asking for help in 2015. The recent revelation comes only weeks after the Holy Father claimed no victims had come forward to him.
Doctor Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at Catholic University of America (CUA), commented, "'Houston, we have a problem.' If the Pope indeed received a report detailing the abuse suffered by [Dr. Fernando] Karadima victims and the cover-up, then there is a huge problem, and it can be summarized with one word: credibility. Or lack thereof."
Despite the fact that Fr. Karadima had been disciplined by the Vatican for the homosexual abuse of boys in the 1980s, his victims have been claiming Bp. Juan Barros — the current bishop of Osorno, Chile — was an accomplice in Karadima's crimes and was even one of his gay lovers.
In January, Pope Francis essentially told victims during a trip to Chile that he didn't believe them, saying, "The day they bring me proof against Bp. Barros, then I will speak. There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is slander. Is this clear?"
He went on, "No one has come forward, they haven't provided any evidence for a judgment. This is all a bit vague, it's something that can't be accepted."
On the plane ride back to Rome, the pope backtracked somewhat, saying, "Here, I have to apologize because the word 'proof' hurt them." He added, "I know how much they suffer. And to hear that the pope told them to their face that they need to bring a letter with proof?"
"Of course, I know that there are a lot of victims of abuse who cannot bring proof, they don't have it, who can't or sometimes don't have [proof] or who have shame and hide it and suffer in silence," he continued. "The drama of those abused is terrible."
Despite outcry by Karadima's victims, Barros was consecrated bishop in 2015. The pope has stood by him and has confirmed that Barros "will stay in his post, I cannot condemn him without evidence." Barros has tried to resign twice but the pope refused to accept his resignation, saying he is "personally convinced" Barros is innocent.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley — one of the Pope's close advisors — admits that Pope Francis did indeed receive a letter from victim Juan Carlo Cruz in 2015 detailing the abuse he suffered, and that he placed the letter himself directly in the Holy Father's hands.
Cruz said Sunday, "Cardinal O'Malley called me after the Pope's visit here in Philadelphia and he told me, among other things, that he had given the letter to the Pope — in his hands."
Cruz maintains that in the 1980s Karadima and Barros were homosexual lovers and that Barros witnessed Karadima abusing him and other boys: "When we were in a room with Karadima and Juan Barros, if he [Barros] wasn't kissing Karadima, he watched as one of us, one of the younger ones, was touched by Karadima and forced to give him kisses."
The account goes on, "Karadima would say to me: 'Put your mouth next to mine and stick out your tongue.' He'd stick out his and kiss us with his tongue."
Cruz disclosed to Pope Francis in his 2015 letter, "Holy Father, Juan Barros says he saw nothing, and yet, there are dozens of us who can testify to the fact that not only was he present when Karadima abused us but that he, too, kissed Karadima and they touched each other."
Barros has claimed, "I never had knowledge of or could have imagined, the serious abuses that this priest committed against the victims."
Barros was consecrated bishop of Osorno weeks after the letter reached the Holy Father.