Pope Wraps Latin America Trip Haunted by Chile Abuse Scandal - NBC New York
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Pope Wraps Latin America Trip Haunted by Chile Abuse Scandal

During his seven-day trip in Chile and Peru Francis personally apologized to survivors of priests who sexually abused them

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Pope Helps Injured Officer Thrown From Horse

    Pope Francis stopped his motorcade to help an injured police officer during a procession in Chile. The police officer was thrown from her horse when the Popemobile passed it. (Published Friday, Jan. 19, 2018)

    Pope Francis wrapped up his visit to Peru on Sunday by meeting with bishops and nuns, but controversy over his accusations that Chilean sex abuse victims slandered a bishop cast a shadow over what has become the most contested and violent trip of his papacy.

    A day after his top adviser on sex abuse publicly rebuked him for his Chile remarks, Francis was reminded that the Vatican has faced years of criticism for its inaction over a similar sex abuse scandal in neighboring Peru.

    "Francis, here there IS proof," read a banner hanging from a Lima building along his motorcade route Sunday.

    The message was a reference to Francis' Jan. 18 comments in Iquique, Chile, that there was not "one shred of proof" that a protege of Chile's most notorious pedophile priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, knew of Karadima's abuse and did nothing to stop it. Karadima's victims have accused the bishop, Juan Barros, of complicity in the cover-up. Barros has denied the accusations, and Francis backed him by saying the victims' claims were "all calumny."

    Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty

    [NATL] Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty

    Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, plead guilty to tax fraud charges as well as campaign finance charges stemming from hush money related to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

    (Published Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018)

    His comments sparked such an outcry that both the Chilean government and his own top adviser on abuse stepped in to publicly rebuke him — an extraordinary correction of a pope from both church and state. The criticisms were all the more remarkable because they came on the Argentina-born pontiff's home turf in Latin America.

    It is extremely rare for a cardinal to publicly criticize a pope, but Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said Saturday that Francis' remarks were "a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse" and made them feel abandoned and left in "discredited exile." Chilean government spokeswoman Paula Narvaez said there is an "ethical imperative to respect victims of sexual abuse, believe them and support them."

    In Peru, the Vatican last week took over a Peru-based Roman Catholic lay movement, Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, more than six years after first learning of sexual, physical and psychological abuse committed by its founder.

    An independent investigation commissioned by the movement found that founder Luis Figari sodomized his recruits and forced them to fondle him and one another, liked to watch them "experience pain, discomfort and fear," and humiliated them in front of others. Figari's victims have criticized the Vatican for its years of inaction and for eventually sanctioning him with what they considered a "golden exile" — retirement in Italy at a retreat house, albeit separated from the community he founded.

    The banner hanging from the building along Francis' motorcade route referred to the proof against Figari and featured a photo of him. Peruvian prosecutors recently announced they wanted to arrest him.

    It was not clear if Francis would refer to the Sodalitium scandal on his final day in Peru, which was to feature a Mass at an airfield expected to draw hundreds of thousands. In contrast, Francis' send-off from Chile drew only 50,000 people, a fraction of the number expected.

    Colorado Man Charged With Five Counts of Murder in Deaths of Wife and Daughters

    [NATL] Colorado Man Charged With Five Counts of Murder in Deaths of Wife and Daughters

    Christopher Lee Watts was charged with five counts of murder Monday for the deaths of his wife Shanann Watts and their two daughters Bella and Celeste. Watts had initially pleaded publicly that his wife and daughters had gone missing. Their bodies were discovered on the property of the oil and natural gas company Watts worked for. The D.A. said that it's "too early" to discuss whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty.

    (Published Monday, Aug. 20, 2018)

    "Hopefully early tomorrow, myself and all of Peru will get a chance to see him up close," said Nicolas Astete, one of more than 3,000 people who gathered Saturday night outside the Apostolic Nunciature in Lima, hoping to see a glimpse of the pope before he retired for the evening.

    "Come here!" the crowds cried as Francis made his way to the papal embassy.

    During his seven-day trip in Chile and Peru Francis personally apologized to survivors of priests who sexually abused them, traveled deep into the Amazon to meet with indigenous leaders, decried the scourges of corruption and violence against women in Latin America and urged the Chilean government and radical factions of the Mapuche indigenous group to peacefully resolve one of the region's longest-running disputes.

    But the pope also attracted unprecedented rejection: At least a dozen churches across Chile were set aflame, and riot police shot tear gas at and arrested protesters in Santiago.