Pope invites sex abuse victims from Chile to Vatican

Pope Francis has said he made “serious mistakes” over a case of alleged child abuse by Catholic clergy in Chile.

In a letter to the South American country’s bishops, Francis said he felt “sadness and shame” over comments earlier this year in which he accused the victims of committing slander.

After his remarks caused an outcry, Francis sent the Vatican’s most respected sexual abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna to Chile.

Francis said the clergy must now work together to “re-establish confidence in the church, confidence that was broken by our errors and sins, and heal the wounds that continue to bleed in Chilean society”.

The letter, released by the church in Chile, said the Pope would invite some of the victims to Rome.

Francis thanked the 64 people who testified and had the courage to bare the “wounds of their souls” for the sake of truth. He said he felt “pain and shame” in reading the 2,300-page dossier his envoys prepared. He said Scicluna and Bertomeu were “overwhelmed by the pain of so many victims”.

“For my part, I recognize and so I want it to be faithfully transmitted that I have incurred grave mistakes of judgment and perception of the situation, especially due to the lack of truthful and balanced information,” Francis wrote. “From now on I ask forgiveness of all those I offended and I hope to be able to do it personally in the coming weeks.”

A Chilean bishop, Juan Barros, is accused of hiding abuses by a priest.

Bishop Barros has not been accused of abuse, but of being present when another priest, Fernando Karadima, molested young boys in Santiago, starting in the 1980s.

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