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Pope Francis during a press conference on board a plane back to Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto / AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis apologized to victims of clerical sex abuse Sunday, stating that he was sorry for having "wounded many" when defending Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who has been accused of covering for a pedophile, reports Reuters.

Yes, but despite his apology, Pope Francis maintains that Barros is innocent. Last week, the pope told a reporter that "[t]here is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?”

Timing:

  • Barros has been accused of covering up sex abuse committed by his former mentor.
  • The pope defended Barros last week, prompting backlash from abuse survivors and even Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston and the pope’s top adviser on clerical sex abuse. O'Malley said Saturday that the pope's comments had caused “great pain.”
  • On Sunday, during his flight back to Rome, Francis said, “I know how much they (abuse victims) suffer in hearing the pope say to them ‘bring me a letter with the proof,’ I realize that it is a slap in their faces, and now I realize that my expression was an unfortunate one.”
  • But Francis added on the plane that he cannot condemn Barros without evidence, and that the Chilean bishop will remain in his position unless proof surfaces.

Go deeper

Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

Jerome Powell. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty Images

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Wednesday that rock-bottom interest rates aren't playing a role in driving stock prices higher, while noting that vulnerabilities to the financial system are "moderate."

Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).