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Crisis of faith in Chile as pope visits amid sexual abuse scandal

Crisis of faith in Chile as pope visits amid sexual abuse scandal
From Al Jazeera - January 14, 2018

Santiago, Chile - The last time a pope visited Chile was in 1987, when the then staunchly Catholic South American country was in the midst of military rule.

Even communists embraced John Paul II, because of the Chilean Church's outspoken defence of human rights.

But 31 years on, the arrival of the first Latin American pope is not provoking the same euphoria.

Chile has suffered some of the worst cases of ecclesiastic sex abuse in the region, and the Catholic Church is paying the price.

When the former archbishop of Buenos Aires became Pope Francis in 2013, his charisma and above all his promises to reform some of the darkest practices of the Vatican, captured the imagination and admiration of much of the world, especially in his region.

He vowed that there would be zero tolerance for sex abuse within the Catholic Church and formed a special commission to investigate the issue, inviting two victims to take part.

Five years later, growing unhappiness over the Vatican's follow up on zero tolerance is casting a shadow on the papal visit here.

The pontiff's controversial decision to name Father Juan Barros as Bishop of Osorno, even though he was accused of facilitating and covering up abuses for Chile's most notorious pedophile priest, Fernando Karadima, left many stupefied.

We are not happy to receive him, because he says one thing and does another. The Church continues covering up abuses and the pope rewards the culprits.

Silvana Gonzalez, Catholic protester

And when Pope Francis was caught on video telling a pilgrim in Rome that Osorno parishioners were suffering because they were "dumb" and "twisted by the left", there was outrage.

Silvana Gonzalez is one of dozens of Catholics who protested on the steps of Osorno's Cathedral on the eve of the Pope's arrival .

'Millions of Catholics have lost faith'

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