Pope Francis concludes three-day summit with Chilean bishops

 Pope Francis poses for a photo with Chilean bishops at the Vatican May 17. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)Pope Francis poses for a photo with Chilean bishops at the Vatican May 17. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

In a letter to the Chilean bishops at the end of a three day summit, Pope Francis thanked them for joining him in asking heartfelt pardon of the victims and in making a firm resolution to repair the damage done to them.

He also thanked them “for the full availability (disponabilidad) that each one has manifested to adhere and collaborate in all those changes and resolutions that we will take in the short, medium and long terms, [which are] necessary to establish justice and ecclesial communion.”

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He had called the bishops to the summit to discern together what measures need to be taken in the short, medium and long terms in the Chilean church following the abuses of sex, power and authority in that church in these last years.

“History is being made. We are at a particular moment for the universal church, not only for Chile,” one monsignor said.

Pope Francis concluded his extraordinary summit meeting with 34 Chilean bishops, including two cardinals, on Thursday evening. “History is being made. We are at a particular moment for the universal church, not only for Chile,” Mgr. Jordi Bertomeu, who accompanied Archbishop Charles Scicluna to Chile to listen to the victims, told reporters. He said to expect “important measures” to be taken soon.

A spokesman for the Chilean bishops, Bishop Fernando Ramos, auxiliary bishop of Santiago and secretary-general of the conference, told the press this afternoon that they would hold a press conference tomorrow and would give a concluding statement. He said “we are satisfied and serene” with the summit “but like the pope we are very sad.” The conference is expected to be held at 12:30 p.m. Rome time.

Francis met the bishops for the first time at this summit on May 15. Like a Jesuit retreat master, he read a text to them that he had prepared, the contents of which have not been revealed. He gave a copy of the text to each one at the end of an almost one-hour talk, and then invited them to spend the time between then and their next meeting with him on May 17 “in reflection and prayer.”

His second encounter with them on what the Vatican, in a statement on the eve of the summit, called “a long synodal journey,” took place on May 16. It took the form of a dialogue in which several bishops spoke, according to one of the Chilean participants. Francis had two additional face-to-face encounters with them today: one in the morning and the other this evening. At the pope’s request, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops which oversees the selection of bishops and formation of new dioceses, was present at all three meetings.

This summit was convened by Francis after receiving the 2,300 page report of the envoys—Archbishop Charles Scicluna and the monsignor—that he had sent to Chile in February to listen to the victims of abuse by Father Fernando Karadima, whom a Vatican tribunal found guilty of these crimes in 2011. The victims accused Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno of being present when the abuse happened and covering it up, though he denies it and, up to then, Francis had staunchly defended him. After receiving their report, the pope first invited the three victims—Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andrés Murillo—to meet him in the Vatican, and at the same time he summoned the bishops to a summit meeting to take place after that.

The Spanish monsignor advised the journalists from various news outlets from Chile and other countries this morning “to expect some measures in a short time. The Pope is a man of his word and if he has said that he would [take such measure], he will do so.” He added that “this is necessary.”

“We are at a particular moment for the universal Church, not only for Chile,” he added. It is “not normal” for the pope to convoke an entire bishops conference, he said. He distinguished this summit from the earlier ones called by St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in relation to the abuse of minors by clergy in the United States and Ireland respectively.

John Paul II summoned the U.S. cardinals to Rome in 2002, at the height of the abuse scandal which was made public by The Boston Globe, and they met with him and senior Vatican officials. Benedict XVI called the Irish bishops to Rome in 2009 in relation to a similar abuse scandal that had been brought into the public arena by public judicial investigations at the request of the Irish government.

Monsignor Bertomeu explained that while all three situations related to sexual abuse, the Chilean case differs from the other two because it has “characteristics of abuse of power and authority that make it somewhat special,” whereas this element was not so present in the U.S. and Irish cases. In fact, Pope Francis, in his letter on April 8, highlighted a triple abuse in the Chile case: “the abuse of power, the abuse of sex, the abuse of authority.”

The Vatican on May 12 said the pope would not comment during or after the summit as he considered the conversations confidential. Two Chilean bishops, speaking to the press on behalf of the hierarchy on May 14, said they too would respect the confidentiality of the encounters.

Carol Cox
6 days 15 hours ago

Recidivism is very high among pedarists! I expected to hear more of a "bang" than a "whisper" with this annountcement. I thought that these child secual predators and thos who allowed the predators to continue their heinous acts against children would be instantly stripped of the priesthood, defrocked and ordered never to work in any capacity with children again. Towards that end, I though that there would be a commission formed to keep check on these men (and women), similar to a parole officer. And, another eagle eye should be hired to make certain that priests aren't being moved around from parish to parish, as we now know that is one of the underbelly ways in which perarist priests excape detection, We must have our eyes open to all of these trenchant ways that priests work to deceive parishoners and children. There should be an oversight committee in every Diocese whose singular job is to see to it that these men/women are kept in check.
And second chances must bot be considered. One violation and that person will be called up for defrocking. Again, sexual predators continuilly assault young children. This is not some curable disease. It is deadly to a child's soul and damages his ability to trust in adults. If we claim that we want to be transparent, let us develop ways in which we make crystal clear what our intentions are in putting the flames out on this child abuse fire once and for all. Let's have the pedarists confess their sins to the victims. Let's have the victims receive first rate counseling from experts in the field of sexual child abuse. Let's take a stand and announce to the world that this will no longer happen within our church. We need everyone in our church family to be vigilant. We will have a reporting system wherein parishioners can let their concerns be known. Every incident will be investigate, I suggest that women take this role. Women are known as protectors of children and they would be best suited to examine all of the facts. Women also have a better rapport with children. The women would been to be trained by professional psychiatrists as to what questions may be asked without violating a victim's right to privacy. We have been talking about this for so long., Please let's get started! I would must humbly be willing to serve in any capacity. I was a teacher for over 22 years and would have much to contribute. Respectfully, Carol Cox

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