Church calls for justice and forgiveness after release of torture report in Chile

.- The Executive Committee of the Bishops Conference of Chile is calling on Chileans to respond with justice and a spirit of reconciliation to the painful “Report on Political Imprisonment and Torture.”

The report, which was drafted by a government-commissioned committee led by Archbishop Sergio Valech, gathered together information about individuals who suffered political imprisonment or torture during the military regime of 1973-1990.

The report has led Chilean President Ricardo Lagos to announce reparations for numerous victims of torture.

The bishops state that “to relive painful situations has not been easy for anybody, especially for those who were the victims of traumatic events which wounded their souls and left painful repercussions in their family and social lives.”

“Political imprisonment and torture,” they emphasized, “produced an existential brokenness in the victims that is very difficult to overcome,” and they added that “we cannot forget as well the repentance and shame of the perpetrators who sometimes were pressured to act the way they did and who over time have borne this heavy weight in their consciences.”

The bishops continued, “Looking at our past confirms a painful truth of our faith.  The mystery of iniquity exists.  The human being, as the painful moments of history have shown, is capable of turning his worst feelings and actions against his neighbor.”

“Facing our past with justice and truth,” the bishops said, “is the path that leads us to mercy and forgiveness in order to strengthen our coming together as children of the same Father God and the same earth.”

The bishops also expressed their admiration for “those persons who have taken the steps to open their memories and hearts to share their painful stories in this report,” and at the same time they expressed their repudiation “once again for the injustice which they suffered, and as pastors of souls, we are willing now just as then to welcome them and support them in their journey.”

“This is a moment for national dignity.  We feel thus,” the bishops concluded. “We invite all Chileans, especially those who have greater responsibilities in public life,” to accept the report and to work for the good of Chile.

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