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 Roman Catholic Church.
Juan Carlos Cruz, an international advocate for abuse victims, was abused as a teenager in his native Chile by a notorious paedophile, Father Fernando Karadima.
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“I am very grateful to Pope Francis for trusting me with this appointment. I deeply appreciate it,” Cruz posted on Twitter.
“This renews my commitment to continue working to end the scourge of abuse and for so many survivors who still do not have justice.”
I am very grateful to Pope Francis @Pontifex for trusting me with this appointment. I deeply appreciate it. This renews my commitment to continue working to end the scourge of abuse and for so many survivors who still do not have justice @TutelaMinorum
— Juan Carlos Cruz Ch. (@jccruzchellew) March 24, 2021
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, the Argentinian-born pope, 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 and 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. Francis expelled Karadima, now 90, from the priesthood later in 2018.
The pope and Cruz, who now lives in the United States, have since had regular contacts to discuss sexual abuse in the church.
Most members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors that Cruz has now joined are priests, nuns, academics and psychologists.
Two past members of the commission, Marie Collins of Ireland and Peter Saunders of the United Kingdom, have expressed frustration that it is not doing enough.
Collins, who was sexually abused by a priest when she was an adolescent, quit her post on the commission in 2017, frustrated by what she described as Vatican stonewalling.
Collins was damning in her criticism of Vatican offices, saying some officials were refusing the pope’s instructions to reply to all correspondence from abuse survivors.
Last year, a long-awaited Vatican report about Theodore McCarrick, an influential US cardinal defrocked by Francis after sex abuse reports, made it plain that the Holy See needs to re-think how the church protects the faithful from bishops and other members of the hierarchy who wield authority with often-scarce accountability.