Chilean bishop-elect apologizes to Jewish community for polemical statements

foto 0000000520190528175926 Officials of the Archdiocese of Santiago meet with representatives of Chile's Jewish community in Santiago, May 28, 2019. | Archdiocese of Santiago.

Fr. Carlos Eugenio Irarrázaval Errazuriz, who was appointed auxiliary bishop of Santiago this month, has apologized to the Jewish community after having made some controversial statements.

Fr. Irarrázaval, a priest of the Archdiocese of Santiago, was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the same local Church May 22. In an interview with CNN Chile the following day, when asked about the role of women in the Church, he said that "we all have to ensure that they can do what they may want to do. Obviously, Jesus Christ marked out for us certain guidelines, and if we want to be the Church of Jesus Christ, we have to be faithful to Jesus Christ."

"Jewish culture is a male dominated culture to this day," he continued. "If you see a Jew walking down the street, the woman goes ten steps behind. But Jesus Christ breaks with that pattern. Jesus Christ converses with women, converses with the adulteress, with the Samaritan woman. Jesus Christ let women care for him."

"It is true that at the Last Supper there was no woman seated at the table, and we also have to respect that. Jesus Christ made choices and he didn't do it ideologically," he said.

On May 28, Fr. Irarrázaval expressed his apologies to the Jewish community during a meeting held at the archdiocesan offices with Jewish representatives.

Also present at the meeting were Bishop Celestino Aós Braco, apostolic administrator of Santiago; Bishop Cristián Carlos Roncagliolo Pacheco, a Santiago auxiliary; Fr. José Manuel Arenas; and the rabbis Alejandro Bloch, Samuel Szteinhendler, and Daniel Zang.

The apologies "were received in a spirit of fraternity by the Jewish religious authorities," a statement from the Archdiocese of Santiago said.

"The encounter allowed us to establish ties of brotherhood with a view to setting out on a path of working together, inspired by the task that, since the promulgation of the Conciliar Declaration Nostra aetate, we carry forward between Jews and the Catholic Church," the text added.

"Both communities share a biblical heritage that details the relationship of God with men, we have expressed our will to foster a culture of encounter with the intention and the commitment to work together to promote ethical and moral values that inspire that heritage, thus seeking a greater awareness of the presence of God in the world and in our society," the statement says.

The meeting participants also agreed to establish a joint forum with a view to realizing a collaborative work, in order to grow in friendship and to deepen knowledge of the two communities.

Fr. Irarrázaval also apologized May 29 for using "expressions which troubled and even pained many people."

"I would like to sincerely ask forgiveness for the suffering and bewilderment that my statements may have caused," he said in a letter.

"I am committed with the Lord to work for communion in the Church, knowing that synodally we are all builders – women and men – with the richness of our differences, of a more welcoming and inclusive Church," he concluded.

Fr. Irarrázaval will be consecrated a bishop July 16.

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