Pope’s investigator meets Chile sex abuse victims

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Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta has been meeting victims

A Vatican cleric leading investigations into sexual abuse has started hearing testimony from victims in Chile.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta is looking into accusations that a bishop appointed by Pope Francis in 2015 covered up crimes against children.

The pontiff sparked controversy by saying during a visit to the country last month there was no evidence against Bishop Juan Barros.

Pope Francis apologised and asked the archbishop to investigate the claims.

On Tuesday Archbishop Scicluna spoke to victims in Providencia, a wealthy Santiago neighbourhood where a priest who abused boys, Father Fernando Karadima, had his parish.

Bishop Barros has been accused of using his position in the Catholic Church to try to block an investigation into Karadima.

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Bishop Juan Barros (C) is accused of covering up abuse

In 2011 Karadima – Bishop Barros’s mentor – was found guilty by the Vatican of sexually abusing young boys and ordered to do penance.

A judge later dismissed a criminal case against him, saying the alleged crimes had been committed too many years before.

Critics in Chile say Pope Francis failed to respond to their request to review his appointment of Juan Barros as bishop of Osorno in southern Chile.

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Pope Francis has apologised for remarks he made in Chile

One of Karadima’s victims who spoke to Archbishop Scicluna told reporters he was hopeful that the Chilean authorities would do more to tackle abuse.

“I hope that in the Chile of the future, there is security for children, there is no statute of limitations on sexual abuse, that Sename [Chile’s child protection service] cares for children,” James Hamilton said.

“It does not matter to me what the Catholic Church determines.”

Mr Hamilton’s evidence had previously helped convict Karadima in 2011.

Under Pope Francis, a Vatican committee has been set up to fight sexual abuse and help victims.

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