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Pope Francis vows 'change' in Chile church after paedophile scandal

Pope Francis vows 'change' in Chile church after paedophile scandal

"When I read this, I think about myself, because I'm a bishop and I'll have to take my leave", Pope Francis said.

"What is sure is that we are facing a very, very particular moment for the universal church, not only for Chile", he said outside the priests' residence where the Chilean bishops are staying.

He said the meetings had been a "frank" exchange about "the grave events that have damaged ecclesiastical communion and weakened the work of the Church of Chile in recent years".

The pope said he had asked for "forgiveness from the heart" from the abuse victims, adding that the Chilean bishops expressed their "firm intention to fix the damage caused".

"I thank you for the full willingness each one of you has shown to cooperate in all the short, medium, and long-term changes and resolutions that we must implement to re-establish justice and the ecclesial communion, " Francis wrote.

Francis bid farewell to each of the 34 bishops from Chile amid indications that many heads are going to roll after four days of meetings and prayer.

Francis had sent Father Bertomeu and the Vatican's top expert to investigate, and they came back with a much broader view of the scale of abuse and cover-up in the church. The investigation was conducted by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, resulting in a 2,300-page report on the situation.

The unprecedented summoning of the Chilean delegation is also a chance for Francis to fix some of the damage done during his visit to the country in January, when his defence of controversial bishop Juan Barros caused a public outcry.

In 2011, Karadima was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith of abusing minors and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.

Vira led a group of monks from Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm or Wat Pho, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand and Wat Pho's lay minister Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, Thai Beverage Ltd Co's CEO to the Vatican to strengthen the relationship between Buddhists and Catholic Christians.

The pontiff had strongly defended Barros who has been accused of covering up abuses by Fernando Karadima, another priest, in the 1980s and '90s. However, after receiving Scicluna's report, Francis apologized and asked to meet the bishops and more outspoken survivors in person.

After reflecting on the text they were given the first day, which Gonzalez said was an ecclesial text "on the mission that the Church in Chile has", each of the bishops was invited in following sessions to share their thoughts about the text and what struck them.

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