Referring to the recent Supreme Court decision, which declared the Catholic Church was not responsible for sexual abuse committed by an ex-priest, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago, Cristián Contreras, said this week the “Church does not hide crimes nor provide impunity.”
Bishop Contreras explained that the Archdiocese reacted “with serenity” upon learning of the ruling, and he said, “We are dealing with painful human situations about which we cannot be indifferent, let alone apathetic.”
“The Supreme Court decision is based on civil legislation and it also recognizes the truth that in the Church the relationship between bishop and priest is purely spiritual and pastoral.”
“All adults must responsibly accept the consequences of their personal acts, because no baptized person, let alone a priest, is sent to carry out acts which are at odds with morality and are an attack on the dignity of the human person,” he added.
As someone who closely followed the case of ex-priest Jose Andres Aguirre, Bishop Contreras recalled that, “The Archdiocese, every since it became formally aware in a responsible way of this lamentable situation, suspended him from his ministry, urged him to turn himself in, and sent all the necessary information to Rome, and he was expelled from the clerical state. That’s how it happened, plain and simple, and quick.”
“The Church does not shield crimes nor provide impunity. Which does not mean we should not reach out to the person who commits crimes. We believe in conversion. The Church learns from the vicissitudes of history as well,” Bishop Contreras added.
Finally, Bishop Contreras explained, “At the Bishops Conference we have established very rigorous procedures for assisting possible victims of abuse committed by priests or religious. We desire transparency and responsibility and that nobody invested as minister of the Church breaks the trust which the ecclesial community has placed in him.”