Pope Francis’ tour: Definitions about Clerical abuse and Politics

Pope Francis’ visit to Chile and Peru was eclipsed by accusations made to bishop Juan Barros of covering up sexual abuse committed by priest Fernando Karina. Priest Fernando Karina, now 84 years old, was found guilty of sexual abuse in 2011. Barros stated that he did not know Kadima’s when the abuses happened. These recent events and allegations raise questions over the current state of abuse scandals and Vatican politics. 

 

While in Chile, Pope Francis defended Juan Barros and claimed that victims of clerical abuse need to present proof:

“The day I see proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?”

His statement was widely criticized in Chile and Argentina. He then publicly apologized and claimed his own declaration a slap in the face for the victims.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis’ visit to Chile gathered more than a million people to assist his activities including; a mass for 400.000 people in Santiago, and a visit to the largest women’s prison in San Joaquín were he preached a strong message of hope and decent living conditions. Also, a luncheon took place in Temuco, where the Pope hosted an event in La Auracanía for eleven guests, in which Teresa Hueche from the Mapuche community was present as well.

“Politics is in crisis, very much in crisis in Latin America” said Pope Francis In Perú.

He questioned the quality of Latin American politics expressing his concern for corruption cases, referring to the case of Odebrecht, a Brazilian company accused of bribing politicians. In Lima, where he gathered a million people, he remarked on how every president in Perú has left power, due to ending up in jail.

Media have criticized his tour as the worst seen in the last five years. While national media in Argentina are an active supporter of President Macri administration, which the Pope has very often antagonize, the Pope received accusations from other sectors. Recognized journalist Horacio Verbitsky, who recently founded a new media web site, states that Pope Francis (formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio) played a suspicious role during Argentina´s last dictatorship (1976-1983). Verbitsky explains that Bergoglio was involved in the abduction of two priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalis in 1976. In public and after the election of Francis, Jalis had denied that Pope Francis’ lack of protection allowed for the abduction to happen. But newly released material, would prove that in private, Jalis never changed his mind about the Pope’s role during the coup.

Pope Francis has divided social movements in Latin America since elected. While he has been converted into the spiritual leader for most of them, he continues to be criticized by right-wing administrations and other human rights figures that still question his true behavior during the Argentinian dictatorship. Nevertheless, it was also Pope Francis’ decision to open the church’s archives from the Argentina’s dictatorship era. Certainly, Pope Francis has many faces, but it should be up to the people to select his best feature.

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Carla Torres

MA candidate in Applied Human Rights, University of York. BA in Political Science, Buenos Aires, Argentina.