The president of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Alejandro Goic, encouraged Chileans this week to seek the national unity that was achieved 25 years ago during the country's transition to democracy.
“In 1985, a climate of polarization undermined national unity, leading to confrontations between people that went to violent extremes,” the bishop recalled.
Nevertheless, he explained, “amidst that scenario of pain, a group of visionary leaders strove create a minimum of understanding between the different groups that were seeking a peaceful return to institutional normalcy.” Then-Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Juan Francisco Fresno, worked together with a number of public officials to achieve this end, the bishop said.
Dialogue, the acceptance of differences, and respect for dignity were the pillars of that process, he continued, noting that years later, John Paul II would say, “Chile has a vocation to understanding and not confrontation.”
“May the democratic unity that we achieved through dialogue half a century ago translate into other agreements our society needs, especially in the overcoming of inequality and the protection of the poor and most vulnerable,” Bishop Goic said.
He then turned to the unity Chile is currently experiencing as a result of the efforts to rescue the trapped miners. “During this month of solidarity, the unity, hope and faith of these miners, their families and those who have untiringly worked to find them … is a source of pride,” the bishop said.