Vatican: Pope Chile letter a "spiritual state of emergency"

The Vatican says Pope Francis' apology to Chilean sex abuse victims and request that the country's bishops come to Rome to figure out reforms amounts to a "spiritual state of emergency" declaration for the Chilean church.

In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Francis' letter to the Chilean hierarchy was an acknowledgment that he had made a mistake about abuse victims and that "yes, we believe you, you have your place in the church."

In the letter Wednesday, Francis admitted he had made "grave mistakes" in evaluating the case of a bishop accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse. He invited the victims to Rome to personally apologize, and summoned Chile's bishops to sketch out short and long-term changes in the church.