He recalled a time when was returning home in Argentina. After getting off the metro, he saw a couple with a young toddler walking down the street. When the child started to run in his direction, the father immediately yelled for the child to come back, and to "watch out for the pedophiles."
"What shame I underwent! What shame!" Pope Francis said. "They didn't realize that I was the archbishop, I was a priest, and what shame!"
He noted that often times abuse, particularly in new and flourishing communities, is linked to corruption, citing three types of abuse which often go together.
"Abuse in these congregations is always the result of a mentality linked to power, which must be healed at its evil roots," he said, explaining that the various communities undergoing scandals generally all suffer from a deadly trio of "abuse of authority – with which it means to mix the internal and external forum – sexual abuse, and economic messes."
Noting how both he and Benedict XVI have had to "suppress" various communities, such as the Legionaries of Christ, Francis said there are "many painful cases," and that this phenomenon has also affected new and prosperous congregations, most notably the Peruvian-born Sodalitium Christianae Vitae.
In cases like this, "money is always in the middle," he said, adding that "the devil enters through the wallet."
According to St. Ignatius, one of the first steps of temptation is for wealth, he said. "Then come vanity and pride, but first there is wealth. In the new congregations that have fallen into this problem of abuse these three levels are also found together."
However, citing the Ignatian spiritual exercises, the Pope said the shame experienced can also be a grace, and urged his fellow Jesuits to accept these experiences "as a grace and be deeply ashamed," because "we must love the Church with her wounds."
Though spoken beforehand, the Pope's comments have been made public at a time when he is under fire for his reaction to accusations of abuse cover-up on the part of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Chile.
Appointed to head the Osorno diocese by Pope Francis in 2015, Barros is accused of both witnessing and covering the abuse of his longtime friend Fr. Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty of abuse in 2011. Barros has repeatedly denied these claims.
Opposition to Barros and his appointment has been relentless since his installment in 2015. Pope Francis faced major blow-back during his visit to Chile for saying the accusations against Barros were unfounded, and amounted to "calumny."
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On his flight back to Rome, Francis apologized for the comment, saying he had intended to say that there was not enough evidence to convict Barros of cover-up, and that no victims had come forward with information that could prove the Chilean prelate's guilt.
Shortly after the visit, Francis tapped Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican's top man in clerical abuse appeals cases, to go to Santiago to hear victims' testimonies. The trip also includes a stop in New York to speak with one of Karadima's most high-profile victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, who has been among the most vocal opponents of Barros.
After Scicluna's appointment, reports came out indicating that before Barros' appointment in 2015, Cruz had sent an 8-page letter detailing Karadima's abuse to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, alleging that Barros had not only witnessed his abuse and the abuse of others, but had at times participated and covered it up.
According to reports, members of the commission had given the letter to the commission's president, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who is said to have presented it to the Pope, raising questions as to whether Francis had read it and was aware of Cruz's testimony before naming Barros to Osorno.