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Chile cardinal seeks to deflect criticism for pope’s trip

FILE - In this March 12, 2013 file photo Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, of Chile, attends a Mass for the election of a new pope celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, not pictured, inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican. Pope Francis marked his first month as pope on Saturday, April 13, 2013 by naming nine high-ranking prelates from around the globe to a permanent advisory group to help him run the Catholic Church and study a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, a bombshell announcement that indicates he intends a major shift in how the papacy should function. The members of the panel include Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican city state administration, a key position that runs the actual functioning of the Vatican, including its profit-making museums. The non-Vatican officials include Cardinals Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean Patrick O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston; George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; and Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, bishop of Albano, will be secretary while Maradiaga will serve as the group coordinator. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The retired archbishop of Santiago is trying to deflect criticism for Pope Francis’ troubled trip to Chile in January, blaming everything from the summer weather to an “absentee” spokesman for the lower-than-expected turnout and negative press coverage during the visit.

Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, a top papal adviser, wrote an extraordinary letter to the bishops of Latin America that insists the pope’s trip wasn’t a failure, but was “highly positive.” The National Catholic Reporter first reported the letter and its contents Friday.

Errazuriz did not take responsibility for a sex abuse scandal that shadowed Francis’ visit or how the handling of allegations involving the Rev. Fernando Karadima affected the views of Chilean Catholics toward the church and the papacy.

Errazuriz took no responsibility for the lingering effects of a sex abuse scandal on Chilean Catholics and their views about the church and the papacy.

The former archbishop initially shelved the investigation of the Rev. Fernando Karadima’s abuse of young parishioners and has admitted he didn’t believe the victims. A Vatican tribunal convicted Karadima in 2011 and sentenced him to a life of penance and prayer for his sex crimes.

Independent polling firm Latinobarometro has pointed to the Karadima scandal as the leading cause of the church’s loss of credibility in Chile. The country ranks lowest among the 19 in South and Central America in esteem for the pope.

Francis’ trip was dominated by the Karadima affair and the pope’s support for a Karadima protege, Bishop Juan Barros. Some of Karadima’s victims have accused Barros of having witnessed their abuse and ignored it. The criticism reached such a fever pitch that Francis decided upon his return to send a Vatican investigator to Chile.

In the letter, Errazuriz accused Karadima’s victims of trying to profit from their allegations of a cover-up, calling the claims slander aimed at bolstering a civil lawsuit against the Santiago archdiocese. Victim Juan Carlos Cruz denied the charge, saying complaints about Barros long predated any litigation.

“Errazuriz is trying to confuse things and create a distraction to avoid his responsibility in all the cover-up and his poor management of the Chilean church that led to this disaster we are in now,” Cruz told The Associated Press. “This is not about any money.”

Francis sparked an outcry in Chile in 2015 when he appointed Barros bishop of Osorno, Chile over the objections of some in the church hierarchy. They had proposed that Barros and two other Karadima-trained bishops resign and take a year sabbatical.

Members of Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission expressed concern that if Barros didn’t “see” the abuse when it was all around him, he could not be entrusted with protecting children in Osorno.

During his trip, the pontiff enraged Chileans when he strongly defended Barros, calling the accusations against him “calumny.”

Errazuriz, in his letter, blamed some of the negative media coverage on Barros’ decision to speak with journalists and jointly celebrate “probably an excessive” number of Masses with Francis. He said the “absentee” spokesman for the Chilean bishops’ conference should have stopped both Barros and news organizations to keep the focus on the pope.

“We needed a Navarro-Valls, able to politely stop the journalists and tell them that the archbishop of Osorno wouldn’t be giving any more interviews,” Errazuriz wrote, referring to St. John Paul II’s longtime spokesman and spin master, Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

Errazuriz also blamed summer vacations for the low turnout, as well as the selection of venues that were far from city centers and not serviced by public transportation.

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Nicole Winfield

38 Comments

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  • I have a little advice for the RCC, can you please do some serious personal work on why NO ONE will ever accept responsibility for what they do or say. Blaming the weather makes the RCC look like buffoons AGAIN. Little men with fragile character is not doing anyone any favors.

  • Protect the Magisterium at all cost, without whom there’s no Catholic Church.

    And Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Chile goes, Okey-dokey.

  • 1000’s of children have been abused by 1000’s of pedophile clergy for almost 2000 years. Many of these children become pedophiles themselves. Guess who rejoices? SATAN, the great deceiver and destroyer. The deception and destruction continue to this day!

  • The Magisterium is the teaching office exercised, not the hierarchy, bishops, cardinals, or anyone else.

  • It is not restricted to clergy of any particular denomination, and it goes back much further than 2000 years.

  • Obviously they are not going to win you over in any case, so why bother addressing your concerns?

  • Actually, that’s not what you did in your first response above. I live in Chile and see the effects of Catholic clergy pedophilia everywhere. The Pope was here recently and messed up. YOU stick with the article,

  • Explain in brief simple English how an expat in Chile “see(s) the effects of Catholic clergy pedophilia everywhere”.

  • It really does surprise me how abysmally the Chile trip turned out. I have to wonder who thought through where he would go, who he would speak with, who advised him on the tenor of comments about the issues surrounding Barros. He could have avoided any meeting with Barros with a carefully planned trip for Barros to some conference somewhere.

    “Francis sparked an outcry in Chile in 2015 when he appointed Barros bishop of Osorno, Chile over the objections of some in the church hierarchy. They had proposed that Barros and two other Karadima-trained bishops resign and take a year sabbatical.”

    Who was involved in that recommendation and who opposed it? On which side of this brouhaha was Cardinal Javier Errazuriz?

  • And Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Chile goes, … Uhm … wha… yeah … okey-dokey.

  • It’s kind of like the “#METOO” movement, abused kids are growing up
    and finding the courage to out these aging pedophiles. A huge snowball effect is happening, and these old pervert clergy are running for cover.

    Back in the day as a missionary in Mexico, we were almost weekly reading about adults waiting for Catholic pedophile clergy and hacking them to pieces with machetes, especially in Southern Mexico.

    To answer your question, most converts to other religions in Mexico, Central and South America were once fed up Catholics. Hope my English was simple enough for you.

  • There’s been anti-clericalism in Mexico for at least 110 years.

    Anyone familiar with the Cristero War is familiar with how it exhibited and exhibits.

    So, as a current or former non-Catholic missionary, you’re licking your lips and rubbing your hands together.

    I was hoping for something a bit more factual than “old pervert clergy”, and I am sure if you had some facts I would be reading them.

  • NOTHING I say will reach you because you’re in denial, busy licking your own lips and rubbing YOUR hands together. I gave you facts but you can’t accept them because you just like to argue.

  • MANY Catholic clergy have been and are PEDOPHILES. FACT!!
    READ the newspapers and watch the news!!

  • So are many school teachers, parents, coaches, doctors, ministers, rabbis, and on and on.

    FACT!! READ the newspapers and watch the news!!

  • Michael G. Warren belongs to the ‘Latter Day Saints’, who, as we all know, have never had any problems involving sexual immorality, abuse, racism or any other sinful matter.

  • That is the whole point — WHY can’t they win anyone over, except for weak-minded needy and dependent souls?

  • Thanks for re-affirming that the Church is just as sh*tty as any other institution.

    Yet… much more deserving of condemnation, since you people like to hold yourselves out as moral leaders. You’re anything but that.

  • I think you’ve figured out how to increase your personal odds of success and not leave yourself open to criticism.

    Rather than then set the bar high like, say, the Christians do set the bar as law as possible by becoming an atheist.

    Then all you have to is hold yourself out as non-hypocritical by neither praying nor attending any form of religious service, and you’re an A-1 super atheist who exceeds every expectation, as modest as those expectations might be.

    Yes, let those Christians, Muslims, and Jews contribute to the Red Cross, Red Crescent, and Red Crystal – suckers – you’re way way ahead of them in the make-myself-feel-superior sweepstakes.

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