Justice for victims

Justice for victims

Special investigator Archbishop Charles Jude Scicluna © Romano Siciliani (KNA)

The two papal special envoys in the Chilean abuse scandal have completed their mission. Archbishop Charles Scicluna, as head of the delegation, concluded Tuesday by reiterating the desire for unreserved clarification.

Justice must be done for victims "for the good of the country as well as the church," Scicluna said. Hearing the accusations of those affected must be the "guiding principle" of church prosecution of abuse, he said. Scicluna also unveiled a Vatican-run contact point for victims and witnesses that will be available by email and phone starting Wednesday.

Maltese Archbishop Scicluna, the Vatican's longtime chief prosecutor of abuse cases, called on behalf of the pope to "acknowledge and admit the full truth, with all its painful implications and consequences," according to a statement from the Chilean bishops' conference. This, he said, is the starting point for "healing both the victim and the perpetrator" of abuse. At the same time, he called clarification "an imperative of justice".

One week stay in Chile

Scicluna and an officer of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responsible for abuse proceedings, Jordi Bertomeu, had been in Chile for a week to support church employees in coming to terms with the offenses and to speak with those affected in the southern Chilean diocese of Osorno. There the current debate had ignited.

Delegates also met with top Chilean prosecutors to discuss cooperation between the Vatican and Chilean judiciary. Scicluna spoke of "days of grace and listening". At the nunciature in Santiago and in Osorno, he and his staff met with hundreds of people. Many had asked for a personal interview or had handed over letters. Scicluna promised to respond to all communications within a short period of time.

Report led to process of coming to terms with abuse

Scicluna and Bertomeu had already been sent by Pope Francis in February to investigate the Chilean abuse scandal. Your 2.300-page report led to current review process. Scicluna asked those affected by abuse to report to a contact point that is said to be under the authority of the Vatican. Contrary to what Chilean media expected, he did not name a specific person responsible. After several discussions with the Abuse Commission of the Chilean Bishops' Conference, it was considered appropriate to entrust this task to some experts of this commission for the transition, said Scicluna. He has "full confidence" in the training, competence and experience of these individuals, the archbishop continued.

In the country's media, the abuse commission had been discredited by its now-resigned head, Bishop Alejandro Goic. In Goic's diocese of Rancagua, there are allegations against an alleged network of priests who also sexually assaulted minors.

Meanwhile, Chilean media reported that Scicluna had made himself available as a witness to the Chilean public prosecutor's office at the airport immediately before his departure for Rome on Tuesday afternoon (local time). The questioning was related to the investigation into allegations of abuse, prosecutor Raul Guzman told the portal "Soy Chile". In Temuco, the regional prosecutor's office announced it would appoint a special investigator after new allegations against three clergymen came to light.

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