In his footnotes, Pope Francis noted how the investigation found that while some religious had been expelled from their orders due to "immoral conduct," blaming their "criminal acts" on simple weakness, they were then transferred to other parishes or dioceses and given jobs where they had "daily and direct contact with minors."
The reference was likely not only to Karadima, but to other religious orders in which scandals have recently come to light, including the Salesians, Franciscans and the Marist Brothers.
In the letter, Francis said there had also been serious flaws in handling cases of "delicta graviora," meaning "grave offenses," which "corroborate with some of the worrying information that some Roman dicasteries have begun to be aware of."
These errors, he said, have to do particularly with the reception of complaints and "notitiae crimini," or information on the crimes, which "in not a few cases have been classified very superficially as improbable," despite bearing signs of being a serious crime.
In some cases, the pope wrote, it took months for complaints to be investigated, and in others they were not investigated at all. In still other cases, he said, there was clear evidence of "very serious negligence in the protection of children and vulnerable children on the part of bishops and religious superiors."
Pope Francis said he was "perplexed and ashamed" to have read statements saying Church officials investigating abuse allegations had been pressured, and that in some cases, documents had been destroyed by those in charge of diocesan archives.
These actions, Francis said, constitute "an absolute lack of respect for canonical procedure and, even more, reprehensible practices which must be avoided in the future."
The problems, the pope said, do not belong to just one group of people, but are the result of a fractured seminary process.
In the case of many abusers, problems had been detected while they were in seminary or the novitiate, he said, noting that Scicluna's investigation contained "serious accusations against some bishops or superiors who sent priests suspected of active homosexuality to these educational institutions."
In the letter, Pope Francis stressed the need to recognize not only the damage done, but also the underlying causes that led to abuse and cover-up, and to identify ways to repair the pain and suffering many have endured.
He said the problem is not isolated, but everyone is responsible, "I being the first," and that no one can be exempted by "moving the problem onto the backs of others."
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"We need a change, we know it, we need it and we desire it," he said, and encouraged bishops to put Christ at the center. He said in recent history, the Chilean Church has lost this focus, putting itself at the center instead of the Lord.
"I don't know what came first," he said, "if the loss of prophetic strength resulted in the change of center, or the change of center led to the loss of the prophecy that was so characteristic in you."
He cautioned the bishops against assuming an attitude of "messianism," in which they seek to promote themselves as "the only interpreters of God's will." Francis also warned the prelates not to fall into an "elite psychology," which he said can overshadow the way issues are handled.
"An elite or elitist psychology ends up generating dynamics of division, separation and closed circles that lead to narcissistic and authoritarian spiritualities in which, instead of evangelizing, the important thing is to feel special, different than others, thus making it clear that they are interested in neither Jesus Christ or others," he said.
Messianism, elitism and clericalism, Francis continued, "are all synonyms for perversion in ecclesial being; and also synonymous with perversion is the loss of the healthy conscience of knowing that we belong to the holy People of God, which precedes us and which – thanks to God – will succeed us."
Prayer and sincere recognition of one's failings are necessary for grace to work, he said, adding that this saves a person from "the temptation and pretension of wanting to occupy spaces, and especially in a place that does not correspond to us: that of the Lord."