In what is being described as a papal turnaround, Pope Francis is sending ‘the Catholic Church’s top sexual abuse investigator’ to the Chilean city of Osorno to look into allegations against a bishop accused of covering up crimes against minors. And that investigator is none other than Malta’s Archbishop, Charles Scicluna.
Just last week, following his visit to Latin America, Pope Francis had expressed very different sentiments when a Chilean reporter managed to get close enough to ask him about Bishop Juan Barros, who is at the centre of the controversy. “The day I see proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,” the pope had replied. “There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?”
Yesterday, however, the Vatican issued a statement stating “new information” had emerged about Barros, and that it would be dispatching Archbishop Scicluna to “listen to those who want to submit information in their possession.”
This is not the first time that the Vatican has invoked Archbishop Scicluna.
Back in 2005, the Maltese investigator had uncovered evidence of sexual abuse that had resulted in the removal of the late Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
Bishop Barros has been accused of protecting his former mentor, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty back in 2011 of abusing a number of boys. Karadima had constantly denied the allegations, while Barros said he was “unaware of any wrongdoing.”