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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis: I apologize to victims if my words offended them

During the return flight from Peru to Rome, Pope Francis addressed some of the most sensitive issues of the trip. 

Pope Francis also assured he trusts Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who has been accused by some victims of covering up abuses by convicted priest Fernando Karadima.

POPE FRANCIS
“In the case of Barros, it was observed, it was studied... there's no evidence. That's what I meant to say. I don't have evidence to convict him. If I convicted him without evidence, or without moral certainty, I would commit an offense of a bad judge. The best thing to do, he or she who believes it's the case, provide the evidence quickly. If they believe that's truly the case. At this time, I don't believe it's so, because there's no evidence. My heart is open to receive it, though.”

The pope expressed his apologies to abuse victims for asking them in the heat of the moment to show proof that Barros had covered up acts. The Holy Father says he wasn't asking for proof, which is impossible in this case, but rather evidence. 

POPE FRANCIS
“I have to apologize for this, because the word proof hurt, it hurt many of the abused. 'But I have to look for an attestation!' It's a word that implies a legal principle. It hurt, but I ask for their forgiveness. I hurt them without realizing it.”

Regarding the Sodalitium situation, the pope explained the process of investigation and intervention in the lay movement, following its founder's conviction for abuse. 

POPE FRANCIS
“On the other hand, it was nothing personal, there were unclear things. Almost two years ago, I sent a visitor to the Sodalitium, Cardinal Tobin of Newark. Cardinal Tobin makes the visit, discovers things he doesn't understand or aren't clear, and names two economic supervisors. This is the third abuse, in which the founder was involved, economic management. Following a study, Cardinal Tobin recommends intervening in the Sodalitium.”

Between smiles, the pope also shared why he decided to marry a couple on a flight during the Chile trip.

POPE FRANCIS
“They were prepared. Tell the parish priests they were prepared, and I concluded they were prepared. They asked me to do it. Sacraments are for people. All the conditions were clear. Why not do today what can be done today instead of leaving it for tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow becomes 10 or eight more years? This is the response. I judged they were prepared, they knew what they were doing. Also, each one of them had prepared himself or herself before the Lord through the sacrament of penance. Later, I married them."

The Holy Father recalled two moments from the trip that left an impact on him – the visit to a women's prison in Santiago and the encounter with orphaned and abandoned children in the Little Prince Home, in the Amazon.

During the meeting, there was a moment of turbulence and, as the pilot recommended that passengers be seated, Pope Francis sat in the journalist area before continuing minutes later.