The new interim leader of the Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile, Bishop Celestino Aos, met Friday with victims of sexual abuse by priests. He asked for apology for the violence suffered by the victims.
According to Chilean media reports, Bishop Celestino Aos visited the headquarters of the victims' initiative "Para la confianza" and asked for apologies for the violence suffered. According to the report, the founders of the initiative, James Hamilton, Juan Carlos Cruz and Jose Andres Murillo, praised the gesture, but reiterated the call for concrete steps to be taken.
Assault priests protected and clarification obstructed
The Archdiocese of Santiago is at the center of the nationwide abuse scandal in Chile. Both the head of the diocese, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who retired at the end of March, and his predecessor, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, are accused of having protected abusive priests for decades and of having obstructed the investigation.
Bishop Aos visited the center of "Para la confianza" immediately after his return from Rome, where he had spent a week discussing the situation of the Church in Santiago with members of the Curia and Pope Francis.
Concrete acts of reparation
The newspaper La Tercera quoted Hamilton, the victim's representative, as saying that Aos had asked for an apology and had spoken of an "infinite guilt". According to the bishop, it is a matter of starting a process of reparation. This is also the only way the Catholic Church can regain trust.
The initiative's co-founder, Cruz, told "La Tercera" that the time for words is over; the many victims expect "concrete action".
At the end of March, an appeals court in Santiago had ruled that a compensation claim by Cruz, Hamilton and Murillo for sexual abuse suffered was legal. According to the ruling, church leaders must pay the three plaintiffs the equivalent of 130 each.000 euros to be paid. The Archdiocese of Santiago said it would not oppose the decision.
Profound church reforms
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper "El Pais", Aos again spoke out in favor of far-reaching church reforms. It is necessary to "understand the real dimension of the acts," the bishop said. "To recognize them and to face the truth, only this will set us free"."
It is also necessary to ask how this "unjustifiable" situation could have come about. Aos acknowledged that in the past, this self-examination had been done "with lies, in an attempt to preserve the good reputation of the church".