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Pope receives Chilean bishops over sex abuse scandal

AFP  |  Vatican City 

began receiving Chilean bishops at the Vatican today in a bid to address a child abuse scandal within the Church in that has come to haunt his papacy.

The 34 bishops, three of whom are already retired, are to hold private and group meetings with the Argentine pontiff between Tuesday and Thursday. "Firstly, we want to share our pain and shame," said Fernando Ramos, a for the Chilean delegation.

"Pain because there are victims of sex abuse, and shame because these abuses occurred within the Church," he told reporters.

The visit comes two weeks after held private meetings with three victims of Chilean Fernando Karadima, and promised to adopt "adequate and lasting" measures to stop child sex abuse within the

Karadima was forced into retirement in 2011 after eventually being found by the Holy See to have been a serial abuser of minors during the 1980s and 1990s.

Controversial cardinal Javier Errazuriz, a key advisor to Francis, was also summoned as part of the Chilean delegation at the pontiff's request.

Errazuriz is accused by Karadima's victims of ignoring and helping to cover up the abuses committed by Karadima.

In a statement, the Vatican said believed it was "necessary to examine in depth the causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that have led, in certain cases, to concealment and serious omissions towards the victims."

Speaking to reporters, said: "The main focus is the victims, we can always make amends and move towards reconciliation with them." The unprecedented summoning of the Chilean delegation is also a chance for Francis to repair some of the damage done during his visit to in January, when his defence of controversial Chilean caused a public outcry.

The pontiff strongly defended Barros, who was also accused of covering up Karadima's abuses, saying that he was convinced of his innocence and demanding "proof" before he would speak out against him.

He later apologised to the victims, admitting he had made "grave mistakes" after reading a 2,300-page report on the abuse in

Experts and sources within Chilean church suggested the could remove Barros from his duties and set in motion a major shake-up of the church hierarchy within the Latin American nation.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 15 2018. 17:15 IST