VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has admitted he made “grave errors” in judgment in Chile’s sex abuse scandal and invited the abuse victims he had discredited to Rome to beg their forgiveness.
In an extraordinary letter published Wednesday, Francis also summoned Chile’s bishops to the Vatican for an emergency meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the scandal, which has badly tarnished his reputation and that of the Chilean church.
Francis blamed a lack of “true and balanced information” in his missteps in judging Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile’s most notorious predator priest. Francis strongly defended Barros, despite accusations by victims that the Chilean priest witnessed and ignored their abuse.
Francis sent the Vatican’s most respected sex abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, to investigate the scandal. While the pope’s letter doesn’t reveal Scicluna’s conclusions, Francis made clear the bishops needed to “repair the scandal where possible and re-establish justice.”