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Former first lady openly against Pope Francis visit to Chile: "He just pays lip service"

Contexto | Pablo Vera Lisperguer | Agencia UNO
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Former Chile first lady, between 1994 and 2000, Marta Larraechea was highly critical when refering to Pope Francis’ lack of action regarding the continuity of the Bishop of Osorno, Los Lagos region, Juan Barros Madrid, who has been accused of concealing cases of child abuse and paedophilia carried out by catholic priests.

Thus, former president Frei’s wife accused the pontiff of just paying lip service and being someone who she simply does not like whatsoever.

I do not like the pontiff at all, he is a guy who, deep down, is more reserved, someone who just pays lip service“, she affirmed.

In Osorno, Larraechea expressed her support towards the local Lay Organisation, a group which has opposed Barros ever since the allegations became public and who faces protests regularly.

Bishop Barros during Mass. Jose Luis Bustos | Agencia UNO
Bishop Barros during Mass. Jose Luis Bustos | Agencia UNO

“I do not want to catch the sight of him, because I do not like paedophiles”, Larraechea added.

In fact, Fernando Karadima’s victims have accused Barros of being a witness of the abuses they suffered and stated that he has openly tried to hide his involvement in such cases.

Mr Karadima was a part of the high echelons of the Chilean clergy. Nonetheless, and after a Vatican enquiry, he was suspended for life after it was confirmed that he was guilty of sexual assault against boys.

Fernando Karadima in Court. Pablo Rojas Madariaga | Agencia UNO
Fernando Karadima in Court. Pablo Rojas Madariaga | Agencia UNO

January papal visit

The current head of the Catholic church will visit Chile for the first time in such role between 15-18 January, 2018, an event that has caused controversy not only because he will face a less Cristian country than the one John Paul II found, back in 1987, but also because of the high cost for the Chilean State.

On top of that, the church’s popularity has lessened in recent years, specifically because of child abuse scandals.

In light of this, Larraechea believes the Pope’s ambassador to Chile, apostolic nuncio Ivo Scapolo, should have warned Francis of the tarnished image of the church in the country.

Back in October 2015, a video of Pope Francis at The Vatican saying that “Osorno suffers because it is dumb” became public.

The video was recorded in May 2015 and the Pope’s reaction was triggered by a request of Osorno locals who asked the pontiff to send a message to their community, upset by Barros’ arrival to the Bishopric.

People protest in Santiago Bishop Barros' designation to Osorno. Raúl Lorca | Agencia UNO
People protest in Santiago Bishop Barros’ designation to Osorno. Raúl Lorca | Agencia UNO

Bergoglio fiercely defended Barros and declared that Osorno had a problem because, in the end, it did not open its heart to what God said and believed other people’s “rubbish”.

Regarding that particular episode, the former first lady hopes he never comes to Chile. “He does not like us”, she said.

“What the Pope said about Osorno was very painful”, Larraechea -who currently lives in that city in the south of Chile- added.

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