‘Democracy has won,’ bishop says after broad voter rejection of new Chilean constitution

Chile president Gabriel Bóric President Gabriel Bóric of Chile votes in a Sept. 4, 2022, election for proposed changes to the country’s constitution. | Photo credit: Press Presidency of Chile

Bishop Isauro Covili Linfati of Iquique, Chile, said democracy “has won” after an overwhelming 62% of voters in Chile rejected a proposal for a new constitution that sought to introduce “abortion on demand and euthanasia.”

“Democracy, as an act of responsible freedom, has won,” the prelate said in a statement released Sept. 4.

The proposal on Sunday for a new constitution only obtained 38.13% of votes in favor; therefore, the country’s Magna Carta drafted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled the country between 1973 and 1990, will be maintained. It was partly reformed during the subsequent years of democracy.

Linfati wrote that “it’s not possible to put a happy face” on this process, since there are several “lessons that we have to learn as a country.”

The prelate criticized that in the elaboration of the text, “which should bring about the unity of our nation,” “important institutions” such as the Catholic Church and its bishops were not welcomed or listened to.

He also lamented that in the creation of the new constitution’s text, “a minority intended to impose its vision and its will.”

“It is a text that, despite having very good themes, was destined not to be accepted by the majority, especially for introducing abortion on demand and euthanasia among other issues,” he said.

In his statement, Linfati invited “the thousands of devotees who pray and dance (a folk custom) to Our Lady of Mount Carmel,” the patroness of the country affectionately nicknamed “La Chinita,” and to St. Lawrence, “to collaborate for the good of the unity of the country.”

The prelate asked that out of faith in Jesus Christ and “moved by good, truth, justice,” Chileans are able to banish “the fundamentalisms, polarization, violence, intolerance, and ideological closed-mindedness experienced in recent months that has done harm to the soul of Chile.”

The bishop of Iquique urged Chileans to “encounter one another again and travel along paths of profound analysis of what has been experienced, accompanied by times of silence and penance.”

“Working together in the search for agreements, open-mindedness, and valuing and respecting each person,” he added.

Finally, the bishop observed that “the rejection expressed by the voters doesn’t mean maintaining the current constitutional text but has to do with the desire to write a new and better text.”

This text must create “unity and a vision of the country shared by a large majority and for this I trust that President Gabriel Boric will have sufficient high-mindedness to understand and address the challenges in this matter,” he concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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