Even now the Pope is relying on priests to be his eyes and ears in Chile

Pope Francis spent portions of this past weekend with a group of five Chilean priests and two lay people, who were victims of abuse in their home country, which is currently embroiled in major crisis over the culture of abuse and cover-up that apparently pervades the clerical culture there. Two other priests who have been accompanying the victims joined the group as well. The weekend meetings the Holy Father held followed similar encounters at the end of April, with three laymen who were also victims of Fr Fernando Karadima, the 87-year-old disgraced former celebrity priest convicted by the Vatican and sentenced in 2011 to a life of prayer and penance.

Following the meetings, one of the priests, Fr Fr Eugenio de la Fuente Lora, told reporters he found Pope Francis to be well informed and full of ideas about how to address the crisis in the country. “[The Pope] has a very deep understanding of the problem,” he said. “He has some very concrete ideas for how to advance, always on the short, medium and long term.”

Pope Francis, however, has thus far given little indication of what his concrete plans are, despite repeated reassurances from various quarters, which say the Pope now has a firm handle on the crisis.

The extent of the corruption in Chile began to be apparent to the outside world in the wake of an investigation into the handling of the Karadima case at the highest levels of Church governance in Chile, conducted by the Pope’s special investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who visited Chile and the United States in February of this year to hear testimony and gather other evidence.

Pope Francis ordered that mission after media pressure and popular outrage over the Pope’s repeated accusations of calumny against Karadima’s accusers, who also accuse one of Karadima’s protégés, Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno (pictured) of turning a blind eye to his mentor’s predations. Archbishop Scicluna presented the Holy Father with a 2,300-page dossier. After reading the report, Pope Francis summoned the bishops of Chile for an emergency meeting in the Vatican, at the end of which the bishops tendered their resignations en masse.

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