Church in Chile ‘shocked,’ ‘perplexed’ over abuse crisis, locals say

Crux | 5/18/2019 | Staff
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Editor’s note: this is the first of a series of articles by Crux’s Rome Bureau Chief Ines San Martin on the situation of the Chilean Church.

SANTIAGO, Chile - Though it’s been diminishing for a while, more so in some places than others, the influence of the Catholic Church across Latin America is still undeniable. Chile is no exception, especially given that the Church here was at the forefront of the defense of human rights during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Church - Standing - Chile - Right - Beating

The Church’s standing in Chile right now, however, is taking a historic beating.

According to the latest poll by the International Social Survey Program, the credibility of the Church among Chileans is today at a historic low, going from 51 percent of trust in 1998 to 13 percent in October 2018.

May - Year - Pope - Francis - Part

In May of last year, Pope Francis diagnosed part of the problem: a culture of clerical sexual abuse and cover-up.

According to Joaquin Silva, a lay man and Dean of the Faculty of Theology of Chile’s Catholic University, the Chilean Church today is in “shock” and cannot overcome its “perplexity” over the pope’s diagnosis.

Consequence - Changes - Pope - Call - Conversion

“As a consequence, the necessary changes, the [pope’s] call to conversion and renovation, doesn’t take the shape of a concrete restructuring of the hierarchy, the ecclesial configuration and the understanding of the priesthood as a ministry,” he told Crux.

On the contrary, Silva said, the shock has led the Church to simply enact some “legal and protocol changes” which, even though they were necessary, don’t address the heart of the problem.

People - Crimes - Protocol - Place - Person

“People don’t commit crimes because we don’t know what’s good and what’s bad, or because we don’t have a protocol in place when a person abuses a minor,” Silva argued. “It takes time to assume the gravity of the problem of clerical sexual abuse, and it’s not only the abuses...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Crux
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