After presenting the statement, the priests noted the delicacy of the situation, and that the pope invited them so he could listen to them and give them a chance to share their personal experiences.
Fr. de la Fuente said the pope was clear in his original letter apologizing for having misjudged the situation, saying that the process of re-building the Church in Chile must happen “in short, medium and long term” phases.
Speaking of Cruz, Hamilton, and Murillo, Fr. de la Fuente voiced gratitude for “their testimonies, their courage and their friendship. They have helped the Church a lot.”
The solutions outlining a path forward for the Church in Chile have yet to be decided, he said, explaining that this is something they will discuss with Pope Francis.
Fr. Vial said that while they want to give a voice to victims of abuse, “each case of abuse is different. I could never pretend to represent someone who was abused in a different way and in a different context.”
One of the main goals of their meeting with the pope, he said, is to discuss how to “do as much as possible to avoid the existence of victims of abuse. For us it is very important to collaborate so that there are no more victims of abuse.”
In his comments, de la Fuente stressed that while abuse and pedophilia are problems not exclusive to the Church, they are more serious when they happen in an ecclesial environment “because it is a place of life called to give life and fullness.”
“There is a structure that creates this type of abuse,” he said, explaining that the Church “must be a house of healing.”
The goal is “to try to work at something so that the Church is what Jesus wanted it to be.”
Likewise, Vial stressed the need for pastors to be close to their flocks, and asked the press to be respectful of the communities most impacted by the crisis, “because they are communities, like the whole Church, which are going through a difficult time with a lot of suffering.”
The priests said that given the desire to maintain privacy and confidentiality, they do not plan to make any other public statements until after they return to Chile following their meeting with Pope Francis.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The Holy See press office had announced the group's meeting with Francis May 22. The encounter was scheduled a month ago, and it was said that the pope “wants to demonstrate his closeness to abused priests, to accompany them in their pain and to listen to their valuable views to improve the current preventive measures and the fight against abuses in the Church.”
The nine Chileans will stay at the Vatican's Santa Marta guesthouse. Pope Francis will say Mass for the group June 2, after which there will be a group meeting, followed by private conversations with the pope.
Karadima was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011 of abusing minors, and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. He has not been sentenced by civil courts because of Chile's statue of limitations.
A sacerdotal association which Karadima had led, the Priestly Union of the Sacred Heart, was suppressed within a year of his conviction.
Attention to Karadima's abuse has heightened since the 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to the Diocese of Osorno. Barros had been accused of covering up Karadima's abuses.
Pope Francis initially defended Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop's guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January. He later relented, and sent Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to investigate the situation in Chile.