Pope appoints child-abuse survivor to Vatican panel

pope appoints abuse survivor

Monday, March 29th, 2021

  • Pope Francis has appointed a prominent Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse to a Vatican commission that focuses on education to prevent abuse in the Catholic Church.
  • Juan Carlos Cruz, an international advocate for abuse victims, has been appointed to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

The 59-year-old Cruz was abused as a teenager in his native Chile by a notorious paedophile, Father Fernando Karadima.

Karadima was convicted in 2011 by a Vatican court of committing pedophile acts in the 1980s and 1990s. He was also dismissed from the clerical state and sentenced to lead a life of penance.

During the pope’s trip to Chile in 2018, Cruz criticised Francis for defending a bishop whom Cruz and other victims accused of having witnessed Karadima abuse them and of covering up for him.

Days after returning to Rome, Francis, citing new information, ordered an investigation of the Church in Chile. It produced a 2,300-page report accusing Chile’s bishops of “grave negligence” in investigating the allegations. The report also said evidence of sex crimes had been destroyed.

Francis later that year received Cruz and other victims of Karadima in the Vatican and demanded the resignation of all of Chile’s bishops.

“When the pope asked me for forgiveness, I have never seen someone so contrite. I felt he was in pain,” Cruz said of his private meeting with Francis.

By this time, the pope was aware Cruz was openly gay and living with his partner in the United States.

“God loves you just as you are,” Francis told him.

Cruz has spent years fighting clergy sex abuse and the Church’s code of silence. He expressed “his gratitude” to the pope for the new appointment.

“I am very grateful to Pope Francis for trusting me with this appointment. This renews my commitment to continue working to end the scourge of abuse and for so many survivors who still do not have justice,” Cruz said on Twitter.


On last night’s TV1 programme on New Zealand television we were treated to a two-hour documentary on the papacy of Pope Francis.

Since the recent statement from the Vatican Curia – that the Catholic Church could not bless Same-Sex Unions – as being contrary to official Catholic doctrine – there has been speculation about the seeming contradiction between the action of Pope Francis in adding his signature to this document, and his obvious acceptance of Same-Sex relationships in public.

In last night’s documentary, viewers were able to see a meeting between Pope Francis and the new appointee to a special Commission on child abuse, Juan Carlos Cruz (himself a survivor of clerical abuse as a child in Chile). During the meeting, when Juan Carlos told Pope Francis of his status as a gay person in a relationship, Pope Francis was heard to say that he should not feel guilty, because this was how he was made by God!.

Relating the outcome of this interview, where the Pope assured Juan Carlos that his gay status was a ‘creation of God’, this must surely be interpreted as a situation where his relationship was not a matter for criticism by the Church – whatever the recent statement by the Vatican Curia might have to say about the Blessing of Same Sex Unions.

Pope Francis also said recently – of the legal Civil Union of Same-Sex couples – that this was a situation that the Church could agree with.

NOW.. The FACT that a S/S partnered gay Catholic – Juan Carlos Cruz – has been admitted by the Pope to a position of some responsibility on an official Vatican Commission on child-abuse within the Catholic Church; the Vatican Curia may be confronted with the possibility that their recent statement about the Blessing of S/S Unions could be overturned by papal fiat.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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