VATICAN CITY – The Latest on the Vatican's response to a clergy sex abuse scandal in Chile (all times local):
Pope Francis has become the first pope to publicly denounce a "culture of abuse and cover-up" in the Catholic Church, saying he was ashamed that neither he nor Chile's Catholic leaders truly listened to victims.
Francis issued a pastoral letter to the Chilean faithful Thursday, on the eve of another weekend he will spend listening to victims of Chile's most notorious predator priest. The letter was issued on the same day the Vatican announced its top abuse investigators were returning to Chile on a pastoral mission.
In the eight-page letter, Francis once again thanked victims for their "valiant perseverance" in denouncing abuse and searching for the truth.
And he spoke repeatedly of a "culture of abuse and a system of cover-up that allows it to perpetuate."
The Vatican team of investigators that uncovered wide-scale priestly sexual abuse and cover-up in Chile is going back to the country on a pastoral mission to the diocese of Osorno.
Spokesman Greg Burke said Thursday that the visit to Osorno by Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu was not investigative in nature but pastoral.
Since 2015, Osorno has been headed by Bishop Juan Barros, the focus of the Chilean abuse scandal. Barros had been a top lieutenant of Chile's most famous predator priest, and was accused by victims of having witnessed and ignored their abuse.
Barros has denied the charge, but he was one of 31 Chilean bishops who recently submitted their resignations.
Barros' appointment sharply divided Osorno's Catholics, with many refusing to accept him as bishop.