1. Pope begs forgiveness for ‘irreparable harm’ from sex abuse.

By Peter Prengaman and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 16, 2018, 8:09 AM

Pope Francis begged for forgiveness Tuesday for the “irreparable damage” done to children who were raped and molested by priests, opening his visit to Chile by diving head-first into a scandal that has greatly hurt the Catholic Church’s credibility here and cast a cloud over his visit.

Francis also faced controversy on another front: Overnight three more Catholic churches were torched, two in the southern Araucania region where Francis will visit on Wednesday to meet with Chile’s indigenous peoples. While not causing any injuries, the nine church firebombings in the past few days have marked an unprecedented level of protest against history’s first Latin American pope on his home turf.

In Santiago, though, tens of thousands of jubilant Chileans turned out in droves for his first public Mass, a massive gathering in the capital’s O’Higgins Park where St. John Paul celebrated Mass three decades ago. Before the service began, Francis took a long, looping ride in his popemobile through the grounds to greet well-wishers, some of whom had camped out overnight to secure a spot.

In his first event of the day, Francis met privately with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and addressed lawmakers, judges and other authorities at La Moneda palace. They interrupted him with applause when he said he felt “bound to express my pain and shame” that some of Chile’s pastors had sexually abused children in their care.

Francis didn’t refer by name to Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was sanctioned in 2011 by the Vatican to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for sexually molesting minors. Nor did he refer to the fact that the emeritus archbishop of Santiago, a top papal adviser, has acknowledged he knew of complaints against Karadima but didn’t remove him from ministry.


2. Reports: Turkey’s Erdogan to visit Pope Francis next month.

By Associated Press, January 16, 2018, 7:17 AM

Turkish media reports say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican next month.

Hurriyet newspaper and other media said Erdogan would travel to the Vatican on Feb. 5. for talks that are expected to focus on the status of Jerusalem.

Erdogan, a vocal critic of a U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, had praised Francis for taking a similar stance.


3. Pope uses flight to Chile to urge end of nuclear war.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, January 15, 2018

As he did during the Christmas season, Francis circulated an image of a young boy carrying his dead brother on his back, taken after the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, on the plane full of journalists accompanying him on his Jan. 15-21trip to Chile and Peru.

Through his spokesman, Francis handed each of the journalists a copy of the 1945 picture by American journalist Joseph Roger O’Donnell, portraying a boy who’s waiting for his turn at the crematory to hand in his younger brother’s body.

The pope told reporters that he found it by chance, and was moved upon seeing it.

On the other side, it has the phrase “…the fruit of war,” and his signature.

Francis has spoken about the effects of nuclear weapons several times before. On the plane, as he greeted one of the reporters, he once again spoke about his fears over a possible nuclear war, saying that these weapons “need to be destroyed,” something he’s advocated for at several opportunities.


4. Venezuela president orders probe of priests for hate speech.

By Associated Press, January 15, 2018, 9:29 PM

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for an investigation into Roman Catholic priests he says have made comments critical of the government.

Maduro said in an address Monday that church officials may have committed hate crimes, an accusation he frequently levels at government critics.

Maduro didn’t directly name any priests. 

The newspaper El National, however, says he alluded to Bishop Victor Hugo Basabe of San Felipe recently praying for the liberation of Venezuela from the “corrupt plague” that sees citizens eating from garbage.