VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is planning to meet with more victims of Chile’s most notorious predator priest, a sign he isn’t finished hearing about the “system of abuse” that flourished in a parish that produced dozens of priests over the years.
The Vatican said Tuesday that five of the victims of sexual and psychological abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima are themselves, priests. Francis will host them, as well as two clerics providing spiritual support and two lay people, at the Vatican hotel where he lives from June 1-3.
Francis met with three Chilean men who were victims of Karadima last month.
The pope last week also summoned Chile’s bishops, who offered to resign en masse, after a Vatican investigation found grave negligence in their handling of abuse cases and treatment of victims.
As soon as the bishops returned from the Vatican summit, a new scandal erupted in the very diocese of the bishop who heads Chile’s sex abuse prevention commission. Rancagua Bishop Alejandro Goic has suspended several priests and apologized for not having investigated a case of abuse that an employee repeatedly told him about.
He took action after Chilean television T13 broadcast an expose.
In a statement, the Vatican said the pope’s second meeting with abuse survivors had been in the works for a month and was unrelated to the developments that have rocked Chile’s already discredited Catholic Church.
The meetings with victims are part of Francis’ effort to turn the Chilean church around after he dug himself into the deepest hole of his papacy in January by publicly defending a Chilean bishop accused by victims of having witnessed and ignored their abuse.
The victims were all parishioners in the El Bosque community of Karadima, a charismatic preacher who was protected by the church hierarchy because of his ability to find priestly vocations among Chile’s wealthy, conservative elite. Over the years, his community produced some 30 priests and four bishops.
The Vatican in 2011 sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his crimes.
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