CHILEAN BISHOPS EXPRESS PAIN AND SHAME OVER ABUSE
Pope Francis is currently holding a series of closed-door meetings with the Bishops of Chile to formulate a response to the abuse crisis that has rocked the Church in that country. The discussions are being attended by 31 diocesan and auxiliary bishops and 3 emeritus bishops, and will be ongoing until May 17th. (photo vaticanmedia)
Press conference of two Chilean bishops
On the eve of the meeting, two Chilean bishops held a press conference in Rome, Bishop Fernando Ramos, auxiliary of Santiago and General Secretary of the Chilean Episcopal Conference, and Bishop Juan Ignacio González of San Bernardo.
Called by the Pope
Archbishop Ramos recalled Pope Francis’ letter of April 8th with which he summoned the bishops to the Vatican. He explained how the Bishops have come specifically “to receive the conclusions of the report by Archbishop Scicluna following his visit to Chile, and also to discern short, medium and long term measures to restore communion and justice.” According to the General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference, these were “the two great themes to which the Holy Father invited us with his letter.”
Speaking at the press conference in Rome, Archbishop Ramos said the content of the meetings with the Pope would include: “The issues of abuse of power, abuse of conscience, and sexual abuse, that have occurred in recent decades in the Chilean Church, as well as the mechanisms that led, in some cases, to concealment and serious omissions against the victims. A second point is to share the conclusions the Holy Father drew from Archbishop Scicluna’s report. And a third point is the Pope’s invitation to make a long synodal process of discernment to understand the responsibilities of each and every one regarding these terrible wounds of abuse, and to seek necessary changes so that they are not repeated.”
Pain and shame
Archbishop Ramos spoke of the Bishops’ feeling of “pain and shame.” “Pain,” he said, “because unfortunately there are victims: there are people who are victims of abuse and this causes us profound pain. And shame, because these abuses occurred in Church environments which is precisely where this type of abuse should never occur.”
Forgiveness and reparation
Archbishop Ramos continued: “We must ask forgiveness 70 times 7. I think it is a very important moral imperative for us. The important thing is that the request for forgiveness is truly reparatory.” He concluded: “In all humility we will listen to what the Pope will tell us. … this is a very important moment” for the renewal of the Chilean Church.
Pope Francis as an example for the Chilean bishops
Also speaking at the press conference, Bishop González said the Chilean bishops see Pope Francis as an example for having admitted his mistakes, for asking forgiveness, and for meeting with the victims. The victims are the center of our attention, he said, and for this reason the Church in Chile must work towards reparation, with humility and hope, following the teaching of Jesus.
Restoring trust in the Church
When it announced the meeting with the Chilean bishops, in a communiqué on May 12th, the Vatican Press Office explained that “it is fundamental to restore trust in the Church through good Pastors who witness with their lives that they have heard the voice of the Good Shepherd, and who know how to accompany the suffering of the victims, and work in a determined and tireless way in the prevention of abuse. The Holy Father thanks his brother Bishops for their willingness to stand in docile and humble listening to the Holy Spirit, and he renews his request to the People of God in Chile to continue to pray for the conversion of all.”
The communiqué concluded by confirming that the Pope will not be issuing any statements, either during or after the meetings, “which will take place in absolute confidentiality.”
A FRANCISCAN CRY FOR PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND
This is a story posted last night (May 14) by SIR (Servizio Religiosa Italiana: https://www.agensir.it/quotidiano-en/)
“I have been in the Holy Land for 30 years and I have never seen the like, I have never seen so much rage from Palestinians. People are dying in Gaza, riots are taking place in Jenin, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and in other West Bank cities. The toll of victims is being updated all the time. And it might be even worse tomorrow.”
The person speaking on the phone to SIR from Jerusalem is Father Ibrahim Faltas, director of Franciscan schools in the Holy City and in charge of relations with Israel and Palestinians for the Custody of the Holy Land. The Franciscan father knows the local situation very well: during the so-called second Intifada, he was involved in the Bethlehem Nativity siege (from April 2 to May 10, 2002) and in the forefront of the negotiations to reach an agreement with the 240 Palestinian activists who had taken shelter in the basilica to escape being captured by the Israeli army – an agreement that was reached after a 39-day siege.
“Since then, things have got worse and the peace process seems to have stopped,” he says while he listens to “breaking news” about the Palestinians’ protests and the riots in Gaza and in the West Bank. All this, while president Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, unveiled the coat of arms and opened the US embassy in Jerusalem.
“President Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem has not only kindled the Palestinians’ resentment, it has also split Israeli society. Here in town there are Israelis who cheer and others who protest,” states Father Ibrahim, confirming the news that about 200 Israeli and Palestinian activists are rallying just in front of the diplomatic HQ.
It is more appropriate than ever, now, the priest points out, “to remember John Paul II’s words, when he said that ‘If there is no peace in Jerusalem, there will be no peace anywhere else in the world’. Jerusalem is a unique city. It must be a city for everyone and everyone’s city’.”
“The toll of casualties in Gaza now (jfl: last night) amounts to 41 people dead and 1,800 injured, but many of them are serious. A number that is bound to increase, unfortunately. We are having a terrible day today, and tomorrow the Palestinians will celebrate Nakba, the catastrophe, which is the birth of Israel for them. Much worse might happen.
“On our part,” the Franciscan concludes, “we keep praying for peace and hoping. As Franciscans, we have been in the Holy Land for 800 years and we have never lost hope and we won’t ever. Praying and hoping, while helping the people who suffer, who want dialogue and peace. These are tough, difficult days, but let’s pray that fine, peaceful days may come.”