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Pope says he has thought about when 'to take my leave'

16 May 2018

A Chilean bishop acknowledged the damage inflicted on survivors of clerical sex abuse and the mishandling of cases by Church leaders in the country.

Karadima, who trained some of the bishops for the priesthood decades ago, was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing boys in Santiago in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Colegio San Ignacio at which Father Guzman taught is reputed by local Catholics in Chile to have a history for being "ultra-liberal", and is located just three blocks away from the conservative and affluent El Bosque parish, once run by Father Fernando Karadima.

Retracing the biblical account of how Paul summoned the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus to take his leave of them, Pope Francis noted how the Apostle made an examination of his conscience, telling the Elders what he had done for the community and leaving them to judge his work. Keeping a conviction private, they added, is "not appropriate" as it may be "confused with covering up the case".

Fernández, a former member of the parish once led by the pedophile priest, says he was a victim of Karadima's abuse of power.

The report Francis received from Scicluna and Bertomeu goes beyond Karadima, Barros and three other bishops who were part of the priest's inner circle.

- On their first day of meetings with Pope Francis, Chilean bishops have been asked to make a 24-hour retreat, using the time to pray and reflect on specific themes provided by Pope Francis until their next audience on Wednesday.

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Speaking at a press conference in Rome yesterday, Bishop Ramos spoke of the bishops' "pain and shame" of the abuse. While the 81-year-old Francis has said he didn't envisage a long papacy, he hasn't said explicitly if he'd follow in Benedict's footsteps and retire.

He also said all bishops, including himself, should seek the "grace to be able to take our leave and step down" if this is the will of the Holy Spirit.

Last month, Francis held four days of meetings with Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo, three men abused by Karadima when they were teenagers in Santiago.

As far as I am concern, I admit, and I want you to convey it faithfully, that I have made serious mistakes of assessment and perception on the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information, he underlined.

Pope Francis may have also been referring to Chilean bishops implicated in a sex abuse cover-up scandal.

The statement also said the Pope would not be issuing any statements, either during or after the meetings, "which will take place in absolute confidentiality".

Pope says he has thought about when 'to take my leave'