SANTIAGO, Chile – Pope Francis is accusing victims of Chile's most notorious pedophile of slander, in an astonishing end to a visit that was meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country.
Francis said Thursday that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadimas, such accusations against Barros are "all calumny."
The pope's remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of "penance and prayer" for his crimes in 2011. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible.