Rome--Francis digs heels in over Chilean bishop

For immediate release: Tuesday, March 31

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 566 9790, [email protected]

It’s official: Pope Francis is standing by his cruel and hurtful promotion of a bishop who faces credible allegations of enabling, ignoring and watching child sex crimes.   

It’s cruel because elevating Bishop Juan Barros Madrid rubs salt into the wounds of two sets of victims: the dozens who were sexually assaulted by Fr. Fernando Karadima and the tens of thousands who once had high hopes that Francis might actually do more to stop clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

But arguably, the greater harm is not to already wounded victims. It’s to still vulnerable children. Why? Because when Francis rewards those – like Barros - who conceal child sex crimes, he encourages others to conceal child sex crimes. And that leads to more child sex crimes.

The sad, simple and undeniable truth is that Catholic bishops and priests world-wide look at Barros’ promotion and now realize that despite all the pledges, policies, protocols, promises and panels, this pope is no different than any who came before him.

Francis is more likeable than most. He’s far more PR savvy than most. He’s masterful at using symbols and gestures. He says more of the right things.

( One exception, though, came a year ago this month: )

But when push comes to shove, he does what his predecessors have done, time and time and time again – move complicit colleagues up the clerical ladder no matter how egregiously they have helped predators and hurt kids.

Would it have hurt Francis to withdraw Barros’ appointment, even temporarily? Nope. Would it hurt him now to say “Let’s investigate these serious and credible charges against Barros?” Nope.

Thousands have protested Barros’ elevation. And the response they’re getting from Francis is 19 words saying “Who cares?”

Now more than ever, it’s crucial that members of the pope’s abuse panel go to Rome and confront Francis about this hurtful promotion. And it’s crucial that those who have courageously confronted church officials about this stunningly callous and hurtful move keep speaking out.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy +1 314-566-9790, [email protected], Barbara Dorris +1 314-503-0003, [email protected], Barbara Blaine +1 312-399-4747, [email protected]   

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