Don't compromise on protecting minors from abuse, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said he told the
bishops and priests of Chile to be uncompromising when it comes to protecting
minors from sexual abuse and to trust that God will purify and renew his church
during this time of trial.

Problems and conflicts must never be swept under the rug,
he also said, because they can be resolved only through openness and dialogue.

At his weekly general audience Jan. 24 in St. Peter’s
Square, the pope told an estimated 15,000 pilgrims and visitors about his Jan.
15-21 visit to Chile and Peru.

Thanking leaders, organizers and volunteers for all their
hard work and generosity in contributing to a trip where “everything went
well,” the pope also recognized the presence of protesters.

The protests made the theme of his visit to Chile,
“I Give You My Peace,” even more relevant and timely, he said, as
these words Jesus spoke to his disciples explain how he is the one and only
source of peace for those who trust in him.

Some of the more “intense” moments of the trip,
he said, were meetings with Chile’s priests, religious and bishops.

Those encounters were made “even more fruitful by
the shared suffering over some of the wounds that afflict the church”
there, he said. The pope had earlier asked forgiveness from those who were
sexually abused by priests, but stood firm with his decision in 2015 to give a
diocese to Bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of turning a blind eye to the
abuse perpetrated by Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor.

During his general audience at the Vatican, the pope said
he emphasized to his brother bishops and priests that they must “reject
every compromise with the sexual abuse of minors and, at the same time, trust
in God, who through this difficult trial, purifies and renews his

After detailing other highlights of the trip, he
emphasized the importance of never ignoring or hiding problems or conflicts
because handling them that way only makes things worse.

“Conflicts that come to light are talked about, are
resolved through dialogue. Think about the small conflicts that you certainly
have at home. Don’t hide them,” he said, instead, find the right moment to
talk things through.

When he talked about visiting a women’s prison in
Santiago, he urged all nations to make sure their incarceration practices
always included programs for the rehabilitation and social reintegration of
prisoners. Without that glimmer of hope of someday being welcomed back into
society, “prison is a torture without end.”

He also mentioned how he told leaders in Peru to do all
they could to address the social and environmental challenges there as well as
the problem of corruption.

Looking up from his text at those in St. Peter’s Square, the
pope said, “I don’t know if you here have ever heard talk about
corruption?” As people applauded, he acknowledged how corruption exists
“here, too,” not just in other countries.

Corruption, he said, “is more dangerous than the
flu.” It lodges itself in the heart, destroying it, he said, as he urged
everyone to fight this problem.

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