Pope Francis has publically expressed ‘pain and shame’ over the rape and molestation of children by priests in Chile.
His remarks came during his visit to the Latin American country which has been gripped by a scandal scarring the credibility of the Church.
The pontif also had a private meeting with some of the victims and addressed the issue of abuse during a Mass in Santiago:
“These moments of turbulence. I know the pain of these cases of child abuse and I am following how much is needed to overcome this serious and painful evil. (…) That is why ask you all to ask God to give us the lucidity in his name, for the courage to ask for forgiveness and to listen to what God is telling us.”
The scandal centres on the pope’s appointment in 2015 of Bishop Juan barros to head the small diocese of Osorno in southern Chile.
Parishioners in the southern Chilean city say Bishop Barros used his position in the Church to try to block an investigation into the actions of his mentor, Catholic priest Fernando Karadima.
Karadima was found guilty of abusing teenage boys over mny years. He has denied the allegations and Barros says he was unaware of any wrongdoing.
Despite the scandal and some incidences of churches being attacked by vandals, the welcome most Chileans have given Francis has been warm with tens of thousands lining the streets.