A Chilean bishop has acknowledged the damage inflicted on survivors of clerical sexual abuse and the mishandling of cases by church leaders in the country. Source: CNS.
“I am not saying that perhaps we have made mistakes. We have made mistakes,” said Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo.
Bishop Gonzalez, along with Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, met with journalists on Monday, on the eve of a three-day meeting between Pope Francis and 34 Chilean bishops.
The bishops are meeting at the Vatican until Thursday to discuss with Pope Francis their handling of clerical sexual abuse allegations.
Echoing Pope Francis’ April 11 letter to the Chilean bishops, Bishop Ramos told journalists that the bishops felt “pain and shame” for the abuses committed.
“Receiving information that sexual abuses occurred in our community left many people in shock, because it is something that is unacceptable, intolerable, unjustifiable from every point of view,” Bishop Ramos said.
When asked whether they intend to follow the pope’s lead and ask forgiveness of survivors, Bishop Ramos said attending to the wounds inflicted upon “victims is a great, moral imperative.”
“As Jesus said, we must ask forgiveness seven times 70. We are completely willing to ask forgiveness, but we also hope that forgiveness (can) be restorative,” he said.
Recently, three Chilean abuse survivors who met with Pope Francis strongly criticised the bishops, accusing them of misinforming the Pope on the reality of sexual abuse in the country. Bishop Gonzalez told journalists that victims must remain at the centre of the upcoming discussions. He also said that he met with countless victims in his diocese and “knew the survivors that met with the Holy Father.”
At the first meeting yesterday, which lasted about two hours, Pope Francis given the Chilean prelates a text to “pray and meditate” on, Crux reports.
“This afternoon the Pope gave each of the bishops a text with some themes on which to meditate; from now on until the next meeting, a moment dedicated exclusively to meditation and prayer opens,” the Vatican said in a short statement.
Chilean Bishops express pain and shame over abuse (Vatican News)