Pope apologises to the victims of priest abuse
Pope Francis apologised for insisting that victims of paedophile priests must show "proof" to be believed, saying he realised it was a "slap in the face" to victims that he never intended.
But he doubled down on defending a Chilean bishop accused by victims of covering up for the country's most notorious paedophile priest, and he repeated that anyone who makes such accusations without providing evidence is guilty of slander.
He issued the partial mea culpa in an airborne press conference on Sunday as he returned home from Chile and Peru, where the clergy abuse scandal and his own comments plunged the Chilean church into renewed crisis and revived questions about whether Francis "gets it" about abuse.
The Pope insisted that to date no one had provided him with evidence that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in keeping quiet about the perversions of Rev Fernando Karadima, the charismatic Chilean priest who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for molesting and fondling minors in his Santiago parish. Flying home from the most contested trip of his papacy, Francis said Barros would remain bishop of Osorno, Chile, as long as there's no evidence implicating him in the cover-up.