SANTIAGO – Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said on Tuesday at the end of the ecumenical Te Deum ceremony in Santiago for the Fiestas Patrias commemoration that the country’s Catholic Church “knows better than anyone” that it erred regarding the sexual abuse scandal affecting the institution.
“Regarding those who are complaining about the abuses that have been committed in our Church, I think that the Church itself knows, better than anyone, that it erred,” the president told reporters before the event, which commemorates the 1810 beginning of Chile’s independence process.
Piñera added that he hoped “that our country’s Church can not only confront, but also overcome the dark times it experienced when so many sexual abuses were committed against our children and young people.”
The president said that Chileans do not have to remain trapped in the same divisions and complaints of the past.
“Our generation does not have the right to make our children and grandchildren go through the same hatred, the same complaints that divided us so much and caused us so much harm in the past,” he added.
Along the same lines, Senate President Carlos Montes said at the end of the religious ceremony that “obviously, there has to be a cleansing. The Church is acknowledging that, without a doubt, we need more reflection, more depth and more measures because this cannot continue,” he said.
He also said that the call to welcome the thousands of immigrants who have come to Chile was very clear.
Meanwhile, the head of the Chamber of Deputies, Maya Fernandez, said that the Fiestas Patrias ceremony on Tuesday was an act involving everyone, not only the Catholic Church.
“Clearly, it’s always important to apologize to the victims of abuse. I think that there’s a long road to travel, not only (with) apologies, but also with justice so that these cases never recur in Chile,” she said.
While the homily was being read, the Carabineros – Chile’s militarized police – arrested Roxana Miranda, the head of the Andha Chile housing mortgage-holders association and former presidential candidate, along with other members of the same organization after they began to protest inside the Santiago Cathedral.
Other protesters, pushing other issues, also protested outside the church.
The Chamber of Deputies on Sept. 12 approved the Gender Identity Law allowing name and sex changes for people over age 18 and minors between 14-18, provided the latter receive authorization from their parents or legal guardians.
The Chilean Church is currently experiencing its worst crisis in the last 40 years, with 119 court procedures having been launched against people affiliated with the Church for alleged sexual crimes.
A total of 167 people have been charged in those cases and 178 victims of the alleged crimes identified, according to official figures.