Vatican – "A meeting with the Holy Father to discern what is best in this area"

14 May 2018

(ANS - Vatican City) - The meeting between Pope Francis and the bishops of Chile begins tomorrow, May 15, and is motivated by "the extraordinary challenges posed by the abuses of power, sexuality and conscience that have occurred in Chile in recent decades," as stated by the Press Office of the Holy See. The goal of this long "synodal process" is, in the presence of God, to discern responsibilities and to provide for adequate and lasting changes that prevent repetition of these acts and that restore the country's ecclesial communion. "I see it with gratitude and relief ... It will mark a before and after," said the Salesian, mgr. Héctor Vargas, bishop of Temuco.

The Holy Father made this decision after his trip to Chile, last January, and following the mission of the Archbishop of Malta, Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, always in Chile.

Meetings with the Holy Father and the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Card. Marc Ouellet, PSS, include 31 diocesan and auxiliary bishops and 2 emeritus bishops. Among them, also three Salesians: card. Riccardo Ezzati, archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Msgr. Bernardo Bastres, bishop of Punta Arenas; and mgr. Héctor Vargas, bishop of Temuco.

A few days before his departure for Rome, Msgr. Bastres wrote a letter to the faithful of his diocese, to explain the meaning of the meeting. "We want to take on the errors to which we must answer and correct them, so the Church be increasingly a healthy and safe environment for children and young people ... A Church with wounds is able to understand the wounds of today's world and make them hers ... A Church with wounds does not place itself at the center, does not think of being perfect, but puts at the center the only one who can heal the wounds: Jesus Christ."

In his pastoral letter, the bishop of Punta Arenas reaffirms his fidelity to the Pope and asks everyone to pray for the meeting's successful outcome: "I will submit again to the will of Peter, whose mission is to watch over the sanctity of the People of God ... "; and "I ask you, as the Pope has asked, to be in this moment in a 'state of prayer' for our Church in Chile and our diocese of Magallanes."

Mgr. Vargas, in a long interview granted to the broadcaster "Emol TV", said: "The problem of abuse has been extremely painful ... We have been working on it for several years and we still have not been able to get out of it, despite the enormous efforts that the Church in Chile has made: to face the issue, bring the events to light, welcome the victims, form all pastoral agents on the theme ... Only in the diocese of Temuco we have formed over a thousand pastoral agents. Truly, we have taken all this seriously and are working in all the dioceses of the country."

Mgr. Vargas is absolutely confident about the path taken by the Chilean Church and what is to follow after the meeting with the Pope. "We are willing to do all that is still necessary from this point of view ... Whatever the Holy Father decides, will be a good thing for us."

The Salesian bishops express their will to work in communion with Pope Francis and the hope of being able to rebuild the relationship between the Church and Chilean 


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