Chilean bishop: Reconciliation and forgiveness difficult for non-believers

.- Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso, Chile, told Chileans this week that seeking reconciliation and forgiveness can be very difficult for somebody who has no faith, and he called on everyone to make the effort to face the denouncing of the government of Augusto Pinochet for the use of torture. “Truth and justice are necessary, but they are very painful.  And lastly, reconciliation and forgiveness are very difficult, they are Christian virtues, and it is very difficult for one who does not believe in Jesus Christ to forgive and be reconciled,” he said.

According to Bishop Duarte, “It is difficult as well for those who believe in Jesus Christ, but for those who do not believe, it is incomprehensible and very difficult to accept to the Christian traditions of reconciliation and forgiveness, which do not mean that we wipe clean the slate.”

Asked about the official report on Political Imprisonment and Torture, which was released a few days ago, Bishop Duarte underscored that “the acknowledgement of the terrible things that occurred in our country has been a process of maturity in suffering.”  He also recalled that the Church has always said we must struggle for truth, justice, moral reparation and material reparation inasmuch as possible, but in the end forgiveness and reconciliation must take place.

Although he said the country was still “far from forgiving and reconciling,” he called the recent report “a step forward, a painful, but important, step.  And the fact that important individuals and institutions, such as the Military, have assumed responsibility and have recognized the moral value of this report is very significant.”

The report includes 35,000 testimonies by persons who suffered torture during the dictatorship of Pinochet.


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