Pope vows 'change' in Chile church after paedophile scandal

Vatican City (AFP) –


Pope Francis on Thursday promised "changes" to the Chilean church to "restore justice" following a child abuse scandal that has come to haunt his papacy.

However in a short letter addressed to 34 Chilean bishops, whom the Argentinian pontiff met in groups from Tuesday to Thursday, he gave no indication of eventual consequences for those suspected of keeping silent about the abuse.

"I thank you for the full availability that everyone has shown to adhere to and collaborate in all the changes and resolutions that we will have to implement in the short, medium and long term, necessary to restore justice and ecclesiastical communion," the pope said in a statement in Spanish circulated by the Vatican.

He said the meetings had been a "frank" exchange about "the grave events that have damaged ecclesiastical communion and weakened the work of the Church of Chile in recent years".

"In the light of these painful events concerning abuses -- of minors, of power and of conscience -- we have gone further into the seriousness of these situations as well as the tragic consequences they have had, particularly for the victims."

The pope said he had asked for "forgiveness from the heart" from the abuse victims, adding that the Chilean bishops expressed their "firm intention to repair the damage caused".

The letter ended with a call for the bishops to create a church which listens to "the hungry, the imprisoned, the migrant and the abused".