Tues. 11:30 a.m.: Pope apologizes for church sex abuse during Chilean visit

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass at O'Higgins Park in Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — At least some Chileans are welcoming the pope’s plea for forgiveness over the priestly abuse of children.

Eighty-eight-year-old Cecilia Briseno Pizarro was at the Mass where the pope made the plea. She says that many Chileans were hoping for the pontiff to do exactly what he did.

Fifty-five-year-old nursing assistant Monica Reyes says Francis did the right thing. In her words, “When people make a mistake it’s necessary that they ask for forgiveness.”

Francis infuriated many Chileans when he appointed a bishop who had been close to the Rev. Fernando Karadima, the country’s most notorious child abuser.

Francis did not mention the appointment of the Rev. Juan Barros, who attended a Mass the pope celebrated later in the morning.

Meanwhile, police in Chile’s capital are arresting dozens of protesters near a square where Pope Francis is celebrating Mass.

An Associated Press photographer at the scene watched police detain scores of people who were marching toward the Plaza O’Higgins.

Police first shot tear gas today at the group of about 100 people, who were a few blocks from the plaza. Authorities have estimated about 400,000 on hand for the Mass itself.

After spraying the gas, officers moved in and made the arrests.

Protesters carried signs with messages like, “Burn, pope!” and “We don’t care about the pope!”

On Monday, several groups had said they planned on marching and protesting during the Mass.

COMMENTS