In a letter addressed to Chile’s bishops, Pope Francis admitted to making “serious mistakes” in handling the nation’s massive sex abuse crisis and asked for forgiveness. The pope summoned Chile’s bishops to Rome to address the issue, and invited victims to meet with him as well.

Referring to a recent investigation of abuse cover-up in Chile carried out by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Pope Francis said that after a “slow reading” of the report, “I can affirm that all the testimonies collected speak in a stark manner, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and I confess that this has caused me pain and shame.”

Francis admitted to misjudging the severity of the affair, telling Chile’s bishops that “I have made serious mistakes in the judgement and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information.”

The pope’s letter comes after Scicluna made a Feb. 19-25 visit to the United States and Chile to investigate accusations of negligence on the part of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, who has been accused of covering up abuse of his long-time friend Fernando Karadima.

While on the ground, Scicluna interviewed some 64 people related to the accusations and compiled an report that is some 2,300 pages long, which he delivered to Pope Francis March 20.

Before going to Santiago Feb. 19 to interview witnesses related to the Barros accusations, Scicluna  stopped in New York to interview Cruz. He then went to Santiago to interview additional witnesses related to the Barros case.

Scicluna is a well-regarded Vatican expert on sex abuse appeals cases. In addition to heading the Archdiocese of Malta, in 2015 he was named by the pope to oversee a team in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith charged with handling appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He served as the congregation’s Promoter of Justice for 17 years, and is widely known for his expertise in the canonical norms governing allegations of sexual abuse.

Source: Catholic News Agency