Pope appreciates Chilean Bishops’ recognition of fault

Chilean Bishops meeting Pope Francis in Rome earlier this year

Pope Francis has expressed appreciation for the Chilean bishops’ effort to cooperate with prosecutors and their acknowledgment to have failed to listen to victims of clerical sex abuse.

This was noted in a handwritten letter from the Pope to the President of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference on August 5, 2018, which the Bishops Conference has released.

Last week, the Chilean bishops wrote the following document, entitled “Declaration, Decisions, and Commitments of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference.” In the letter, Francis said he was “impressed by the work of reflection, discernment, and decisions.”

The decisions they outlined, the Pope called, “realistic and concrete.” He noted his hope that this is a “decisive help” in confronting the crisis.”

The Pope prayed for them, especially in “this communal and pastoral effort.”

Last week, the Bishops of Chile met to discuss their sex abuse crisis in their Church and how they failed in responding to it. In the joint document they produced, the bishops acknowledge their “failures” and “omissions” and underscored their commitment to help prosecutors investigate sex abuse allegations.

The 34 Chilean bishops met Pope Francis in Rome from May 15-17 to “examine in depth their causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that have led in some cases to their cover-up and serious omissions towards the victims,” reported the Holy See in a statement, published on May 12.

In the declaration, the Chilean prelates asked for forgiveness “for the pain caused to the victims, to the Pope, to the People of God and to the country for our grave errors and omissions” and thank Pope Francis “for his fatherly listening and fraternal correction.”

Likewise, the bishops thanked the victims “for their perseverance and courage, despite the enormous personal, spiritual, social and family difficulties they have had to face, so many times in the midst of incomprehension and attacks by the ecclesial community itself.”

Finally, the bishops of Chile stated: “All the bishops present in Rome have placed our positions in the hands of the Holy Father so that he freely decides with respect to each one of us.”

The Pope told the bishops “to continue building a prophetic Church, which knows how to put in the center what is important: the service to its Lord in the hungry, in the prisoner, in the migrant, in the abused.”