Pope Francis expresses 'pain and shame' for clergy's sexual abuse of children

The pope, who is from Argentina, is planning a Mass on Tuesday in a Santiago park that is expected to attract more than 500,000 people.

Addressing government authorities and members of the country's diplomatic corps January 16, the pope expressed his "pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church".

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet acknowledged people had a right to protest but called for such expression to be peaceful. No one has been hurt.

Francis referred again to the scandal later in the day, but this time his words were directed at the hundreds of priests gathered in Santiago's cathedral who have seen their influence and moral authority plummet as a result of the Karadima case and cover-up.

According to Karadima's victims, Bishop Barros was aware of the abuse but allowed it to happen, although he denies knowing of the crimes. It comes at a time when many Chileans are furious over Francis' 2015 decision to appoint a bishop close to the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who the Vatican found guilty in 2011 of abusing dozens of minors over decades. The Argentine Pope has visited both countries before becoming pope and lived in Chile for over a year while studying with the Jesuit order to become a priest.

"People are leaving the church because they don't find a protective space there", said Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a group of church members in Osorno. "The pastors are eating the flock".

A few days ago in a meeting with the worldwide media and in a reply to a specific question on why Francis has yet to visit Argentina, spokesperson Burke said that "such details must be left to the Pope", but underlined that when crossing Argentina air space the telegram would be "interesting".

Workers' Socialist Front's Felipe Morales said, "The role of the church has been nefarious", said Morales.

Still, many were excited to see the pope and expressed appreciation for his apology for sex abuse.

One read: "Pope Francis, the next bomb will be in your robe", authorities said. "The pope has all the necessary power and responsibility to end clerical abuse today, if he wanted", José Andrés Murillo, who was abused by Karadima and now runs a foundation helping survivors, told the National Catholic Reporter. A recent survey by Latinobarometro, a respected regional polling firm, found that Chile had a lower esteem for history's first Latin American pope than 18 other Central and South American countries.

A "march of the poor" protesting at the cost of the papal trip to Chile, estimated at $17m, was broken up by riot police.

The Pope did not explicitly discuss North Korea or Hawaii, but he has been an outspoken critic of nuclear war in the past.

"It was awesome to see him", said Luis Salazar, a young boy who came out with his family to see Francis pass by in his popemobile Monday.

He will celebrate Mass for the Mapuche in southern Araucania province on Wednesday and meet with representatives from other indigenous groups at a private lunch.

  • Kyle Peterson