At the end of three days of reflection with the bishops of Chile in the Vatican, from May 15-17, 2018, Pope Francis handed them a letter stressing the “gravity of the abuses “on minors, of power and of conscience,” committed by members of the Church in the country over the past decades.
The Chilean Bishops were convoked after the inquiry carried out by the Pope’s special envoy, Archbishop of Malta, Charles J. Scicluna, President of the Special College of Appeal in the case of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the case of Bishop of Osorno, Juan de la Cruz Barros, accused of being in the know of the sexual abuses committed by his former mentor, Father Karadima.
On April 11 the Pope, who earlier had defended Bishop Barros, acknowledged that he had “committed grave errors in the evaluation and perception of the situation, primarily due to a lack of truthful and balanced information.”
In this new message in Spanish, the Holy Father thanks the bishops for their participation in “a frank discernment” and asks certain victims he met on April 25 for forgiveness “from the depth of his heart”.
Recalling the resolutions to be implement in the ”short term, medium term and long term,” the Pontiff mandates the Chilean bishops to “build a prophetic Church, which knows how to put what is important at the center: the service of the Lord in those that are hungry, are prisoners, are migrants and those that have been abused.”
Over three days, the Pope met four times a day with the country’s more than 30 bishops.
Here is the Vatican-provided English translation of the letter:
To the bishops of Chile:
Dear brothers in the episcopate,
I wish to thank you for having accepted my invitation so that, together, we may make a frank discernment regarding the serious events which have damaged the ecclesial communion and undermined the work of the Church in Chile in recent years.
In light of these painful incidents which concern abuse – of minors, power, and conscience – we exchanged views on their seriousness as well as on their tragic consequences, particularly for the victims. For each of them I have wholeheartedly asked for forgiveness, an action to which all of you have united in one will and with the firm intention of repairing the damage done.
I thank you for the total willingness each one of you has shown to join and collaborate in all the changes and resolutions that we will need to implement in the short-, medium-, and long-term in order to restore justice and ecclesial communion.
Following these days of prayer and reflection, I give you a mandate to continue building a prophetic Church capable of giving pride-of-place to what is most important: Service to the Lord in the hungry, the prisoner, the migrant, and the abused.
Please do not forget to pray for me.
May Jesus bless you and the Virgin Mary watch over you.
FRANCIS[Original Text: Spanish, translation provided by Vatican News]