Tag Archives: Calumny





All 33 Roman Catholic bishops in Chile offered to resign Friday after meeting with Pope Francis in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Latin American country.

The unprecedented offer by the Chilean church’s top hierarchy came after a week of tense meetings with Francis in the Vatican to discuss the harsh conclusions of a report on the Chilean scandal prepared by Malta Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna that accused church leaders of a coverup.

“We want to announce that all bishops present in Rome, in writing, have placed our positions in the Holy Father’s hands so that he may freely decide regarding each one of us,” Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez said in a news conference Friday in Rome.

It was unclear whether Francis would accept any or all of the resignations. Thirty-one of the 33 bishops attended the Vatican meetings, and the two who did not attend added their names to the resignation letter.

“I assume with responsibility, in communion with the rest of the church, this need to support the Holy Father,” Bishop Carlos Pellegrin said after arriving Friday at the Santiago airport.

After visiting Chile in February to investigate the alleged abuses of an unspecified number of victims that included minors and adults, laymen and clerics, Scicluna filed a report that slammed a coverup by church leaders of sex crimes committed by Father Fernando Karadima during his tenure at a parish in Santiago, the capital.

The report blamed, among others, Karadima’s superior Bishop Juan Barros, who attended the Vatican meetings. Karadima, now 87, was condemned by a special canonical court to a lifetime of penance and prayer, but he faced no criminal charges because of the statute of limitations.

In his five years as pontiff, Francis has been praised for his attention to social issues and the poor but accused of failing to punish clergy who abused children. Such criticisms intensified during the pope’s visit to Chile in January, when he labeled the accusations against Barros as “calumny.”

The pope’s words were widely criticized, even by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a key Vatican advisor on clergy abuse.

Francis later apologized and asked Scicluna to investigate the matter. The pontiff also had emotionally charged meetings with three men who said they were abused by Karadima. Those meetings prompted him to write a letter to the Chilean bishops last month, saying that he felt “pain and shame” over the men’s accounts and that he wanted to “apologize to all those I have offended.”

One of the men who met with the pope, Juan Carlos Cruz, described their discussions as “raw.” Cruz said he had “never seen someone so contrite. He was truly sorry, and I felt he was hurting.”

The night before the Chilean bishops sent Francis their offer of resignation, he sent them a letter. According to the Vatican news service, it referenced his meetings with the bishops and said, in part: “In light of these painful incidents which concern abuse — of minors, power, and conscience — we exchanged views on their seriousness as well as on their tragic consequences, particularly for the victims. For each of them I have wholeheartedly asked for forgiveness, an action to which all of you have united in one will and with the firm intention of repairing the damage done.”

Scicluna’s 2,300-page report enumerated “a series of absolutely reprehensible acts that have occurred in the Chilean church in relation to those unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse that have resulted in the lessening of the prophetic vigor,” Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos of Santiago said at the Friday news conference.

Karadima served as spiritual guide to more than 40 priests and four of the current bishops whose future is now at stake — Barros, Horacio Valenzuela, Tomislav Koljatic and Andrés Arteaga. They all have denied covering up abuses. Barros was perhaps closest to Karadima, having been trained by him as a junior priest

“The fame of Father Karadima was extraordinary at that time; he even had a reputation of being a saint,” Emeritus Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz testified at a civil court hearing in 2015, explaining why he didn’t believe the accusations against Karadima in the early 2000s.

Triggering the crisis was Francis’ appointment of Barros in 2015 as head of the Osorno Diocese in Southern Chile. Up to then, Barros had a low profile as Chilean armed forces bishop, but his alleged role in the Karadima coverup was widely known by then and many parishioners protested the appointment.

On Friday in Santiago, another of the whistleblowers who exposed Karadima said Francis needed to get rid of the bishops.

“I hope the pope accepts the resignation of all the bishops, because none of them was willing to side with the victims,” Jose Andres Murillo said at a news conference. “The church must transform itself from a refuge of abusers to a refuge for the victims.”

Poblete is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.




An Anniversary Tribute to Bishop George Bell by Fr. Michael Fullagar – on the eve of the Coburg Conference in Chichester


Bishop George Bell

Dear Reader

(A victim of some strange illness these last months, I have not been officiating , but I wanted to honour on the anniversary of his heavenly birthday George Bell, one Bishop whom many of us consider great).

As a graduate, I was an ordinand at Chichester Theological College  for just eight terms between 1957-1959.  As the College was short of accommodation at the time, I spent  my second year in a room  on the top floor of the Bishop’s Palace.   I was already well acquainted with the Bishop’s Chapel, as that served  also as the College Chapel, where we assembled, except when we worshipped in the Cathedral. Later on we had our own Chapel and a new Building, the latter due to the generosity of many, till the C. of E. closed down our oldest Theological College. It was due to the kindness of Bishop George Bell, one of the great Bishops of Chichester, that for a time both my spiritual and bodily home was to be in the Palace. We did not see the Bishop very often, but memories remain vivid of both him and Henrietta, his splendid wife.

As I am one of a dwindling  number of former students still alive who remember those days, Andrew Chandler,  of the University of Chichester, George’s excellent biographer and defender against calumny, asked me among others specific questions about the Palace Building as it was. Of course, if the accusers had only spoken to George Bell’s former Chaplain, who was still alive at the time, a Chaplain never far from the Palace, they would have learned that the Bishop was abroad for much of the time they mentioned. Nor did he ever own a Rolls Royce, as was suggested. If George Bell were by any chance aware of allegations made against his name, I imagine he would raise a wry smile, for this good man had to face opposition for much of his life, not least from Bishops and Politicians.

In George Bell’s memory, the Arundel screen in the Cathedral has been restored and re-erected. On one side is a profile of Bell with the inscription – ‘GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER 1929 -1958. A TRUE PASTOR. POET AND PATRON OF THE ARTS. CHAMPION OF THE OPPRESSED AND TIRELESS WORKER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY.’ Fresh flowers  were placed underneath the bronze even before  accusers apologised. One of George’s final acts was to dedicate in his honour Bishop Bell School, Eastbourne, now renamed St Catherine’s College, though I wonder which Catherine they mean (the Alexandrian  ‘Wheel’ one or Siena) . I cannot find any answer to that, and have not heard of any plans to bring back the original name.

As far as I know, George Bell House at 4 Canon Lane, has not as yet had its proper name restored, although George’s fourth successor as Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, has apologised, (incidentally the previous three being Roger Wilson, Eric Kemp and John Hind, all of whom I have had the privilege to meet) .   

We remain proud of George Bell’s connection with this glorious Church of St Mary, Hampden Park, which he consecrated on 24th October, 1953. As we enter the Church, we do not fail to see on the outer wall that tribute to a beloved Bishop.

A son of the Vicarage, winning the Newdigate prize at Oxford for a poem, then at Wells Theological College, George went to work in Leeds, where he greatly admired the social work of the Methodists. Later, as a Domestic Chaplain to Randall Davidson at Canterbury, George wrote his two volume official biography.

As a distinguished pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement, George befriended the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by the Nazis on 9th April, 1945, at Flossenburg Concentration Camp. In 1938-9, Bell helped 90 people  escape from Germany to Britain. He spoke passionately in the House of Lords against the blanket bombing of civilians in Germany, which did him no earthly favours with either Prelates or Politicians. Many people believe that he would have become Archbishop of Canterbury rather than Geoffrey Fisher, if he had not been opposed by the Archbishop of York, and if Winston Churchill had not vetoed the appointment.

We continue to honour George Bell as ecumenist and peacemaker. As Patron of the Arts as Dean of Canterbury he enabled, among other events, the staging of T.S. Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’. Later he supported the gift of murals to St Elisabeth’s, Eastbourne, the artist being Hans Feibusch, and also work by the Bloomsbury Group from Charleston on the walls of Berwick Church.

George and Hetty Bell left Chichester in 1958 for retirement in Canterbury but not for long. In that same year on October 3rd he died. Ronald Jasper, his first biographer wrote of George. ‘He will go down in history as one of the special glories of the Church of England: in days to come when the Catholic Church recovers again its lost unities, men will still remember the debt for that recovery owed to George Bell’.

When I lived in the Palace, very few of us could afford a car. One could and gave me lifts to Arundel for Sunday Evening Benediction. Another rose to owning a bubble car. Nevertheless, our parking by the Palace incurred the very voluble opposition of Hetty Bell, a marvellous sort of friendly dragon, whom we all loved. This outspoken lady was complemented by her husband who seemed almost shy at times. When we heard of the Bishop’s departure, some of us clubbed together to buy them a Kenwood food mixer. ‘Oh, excellent!’, was the immediate response of Hetty. ‘George was always a good mixer!’ And so he was, though subsequently I have also read into her remark, intended or not, that, when necessary, Bishop Bell was also prepared to stir things up. But then, in the words of the Prayer Book Collect, we are urged to pray:

‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded. ‘ Amen.


Rev Michael Fullagar Michael Fullagar was Rector at Freemantle for nine years, from 1978-87. Before coming to Freemantle he had worked in Zaire.

Priest-in-Charge at Westbury, he was appointed Chaplain to Wycombe General Hospital in 1994.

Now retired Michael helps out in the Benefice of St Mary Hampden Park and St Peter the Hydneye, Eastbourne