Pope Francis is under fire for “apparently” lying about not being fully informed that a Chilean priest he elevated to the role of bishop had allegedly “witnessed and took part in the sexual abuse of a child and covered it up,” said John Zmirak on Tuesday.
Zmirak, senior editor of The Stream, joined SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight for an interview with co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Juan Barros — who was appointed as a bishop in 2015 — is accused of witnessing and covering up the sexual abuse of boys by his mentor, Rev. Fernando Karadima, sometime after 1980 in Santiago, Chile, said Zmirak. He pointed to an Associated Press (AP) report on Monday revealing the letter Pope Francis received in 2015 from a sexual abuse victim.
“The Associated Press has reported in a very fair and balanced story — many of their religion stories aren’t, but this one is — that Pope Francis apparently was lying about being fully informed about a sex abuse case from South America where someone witnessed and took part in the sexual abuse of a child and covered it up,” said Zmirak. “He made him a bishop over the screaming objections of the local church, the local bishops. The court had determined that he was essentially guilty, but they couldn’t charge him because of the statute of limitations. Pope Francis didn’t listen. He doesn’t like being told what to do. He doesn’t like getting input from people who disagree with him. He’s got very much of a South American dictator personality. He’s one of the most autocratic popes in a long time.”
Juan Carlos Cruz wrote a letter to Pope Francis detailing his allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of Karadima when he was a child in Santiago, Chile. He further claimed that Barros witnessed the abuse and was involved in a homosexual relationship with Karadima. The letter was given to Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley, who claims to have hand-delivered it to Pope Francis in 2015.
The AP reports on the contents of Cruz’s letter to Pope Francis:
Cruz goes on to detail in explicit terms the homo-eroticized nature of the circle of priests and young boys around Karadima, the charismatic preacher whose El Bosque community in the well-to-do Santiago neighborhood of Providencia produced dozens of priestly vocations and five bishops, including Barros.
He described how Karadima would kiss Barros and fondle his genitals, and do the same with younger priests and teens, and how young priests and seminarians would fight to sit next to Karadima at the table to receive his affections.
“More difficult and tough was when we were in Karadima’s room and Juan Barros — if he wasn’t kissing Karadima — would watch when Karadima would touch us — the minors — and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth near mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his out and kiss us with his tongue,” Cruz told the pope. “Juan Barros was a witness to all this innumerable times, not just with me but with others as well.”
“Juan Barros covered up everything that I have told you,” he added.
Karadima developed a “cult of personality” around himself to facilitate his sexual abuse of children, said Zmirak.
“[Barros] witnessed the abuse, and according to one victim took part in it and covered it up,” said Zmirak. “It was part of this cult of personality of this very charismatic priest down in Chile, he had a huge following, lots of people flocked around him. That could mean one of two things, that could mean it’s a saint like Saint Francis or it could mean it’s a sociopathic cult leader, and in church history we’ve had both. The church used to look very carefully to determine, this guy’s got a lot of followers, does that mean he’s really of God, or does that mean he’s working for the other team? This guy was working for the other team. He was sexually abusing kids, and one of his proteges witnessed it personally and it seems took part in it once, and that protege is now a bishop despite the abuse victims.”
Pope Francis claims to have no knowledge of Barros’ involvement in the child sexual abuse scandal.
“Pope Francis denied knowledge of it, but four or five different witnesses have come forward and said, ‘This is a letter, written by the victim himself to the pope, and I gave it to Cardinal O’Malley of Boston who promised that he hand-delivered it,’” said Zmirak. “Cardinal O’Malley has said he delivered it. Pope Francis got this letter from this abuse victim. Either he didn’t read it, or he forgot about because it wasn’t interesting enough to him, or he’s lying, or something else. I can’t think of another choice. It is clear Pope Francis was informed about this.”
Pope Francis subsequently derided those claiming to be victimized by Karadima and Barros, said Zmirak.
“What [Pope Francis] did was to go down to South America and accuse the victims of slandering the priest,” said Zmirak. “He called them stupid, he said they were dumb. In terms of optics, it’s the worst thing, so far, Pope Francis has done.”
Karadima “was never prosecuted in Chile because so much time had passed but was convicted and sentenced by the Vatican to a lifetime of ‘penance and prayer,'” according to the BBC.
“I don’t think Pope Francis recovers his nice guy, Elton John’s best friend persona after this,” concluded Zmirak.
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Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.