Pope Francis’s remark that he had received “no evidence” that a Chilean bishop had witnessed clerical abuse and done nothing about it has been challenged by members of a Vatican commission.

The Pope made the remark during his trip to Chile and again speaking to reporters on the papal plane home.

Associated Press reported that in 2015, four members of a commission on child protection set up by Francis had given an eight-page letter to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Vatican’s senior abuse adviser, that graphically described abuse by Fr Fernando Karadima.

The letter claimed that Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, then a young priest and protégé of Fr Karadima, had witnessed kissing and fondling by the older priest “innumerable times” and ignored it. The letter was delivered in April 2015, a month after Bishop Barros was appointed Bishop of Osorno.

Marie Collins, who resigned as a Vatican abuse adviser last year, was one of the four who hand-delivered the letter. She wrote on Twitter: “This is why I was shocked when I heard the Pope had said on the plane the Karadima victims had not come to him and he would listen if they did. I knew they had contacted him directly with this letter three years ago.”

The letter was written by abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz, who told AP he felt as if he had been slapped when he heard the Pope say he had not received any evidence.

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