Pope acknowledges his 'serious mistakes' in Chile sexual abuse crisis

SANTIAGO/VATICAN CITY, April 11 (Reuters) - Pope Francis acknowledged on Wednesday that he had made "serious mistakes in judgment and perception" of the sexual abuse crisis in Chile, and would meet with victims and bishops in an attempt to heal wounds the scandal caused to the Catholic Church.

"I apologize to all those I have offended and I hope to be able to do it personally in the coming weeks, in the meetings I will have" with victims, he said in a letter to Chilean bishops that followed a visit to Chile by the Vatican's top sexual abuse investigator.

Chile has been shaken by the case of Bishop Juan Barros, appointed by the pope in 2015 despite accusations that Barros had covered up sexual abuse of minors by his mentor Father Fernando Karadima.

Francis, who visited Chile in January, at first strongly defended Barros, saying he was the target of slander. Then the pope dispatched Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican's top sexual crimes investigator, to Chile and New York to interview victims.

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The pope told the bishops he wanted to discuss Scicluna's findings with them and asked for their cooperation in order re-establish serenity in Chile's Church and "repair the scandal as much as possible and reestablish justice." (Reporting by Felipe Itturieta and Fabian Cambero in Santiago and Philip Pullella in Rome; writing by Caroline Stauffer; editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)