The pontiff said there was “no proof” for their claims that abuse by Father Fernando Karadima had been covered up by another man, Bishop Juan Barros.
Until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, he says such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”
“There is not one single piece of proof against him (Bishop Barros). It is all slander. Is that clear?” the Pope said before celebrating Mass outside the city of Iquique in northern Chile.
“The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,” the Pope told journalists.
The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011.
A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.