By Vatican News
One year ago, in January 2018, Pope Francis visited Chile. The four-day apostolic journey was filled with significant encounters and events, but was largely overshadowed by abuse scandals and accusations of mishandling of cases by some of the country’s bishops.
In May this year, the Pope summoned all the bishops of Chile to the Vatican to address the crisis. The meeting concluded with the bishops presenting their resignations to Pope Francis.
This week, five Chilean bishops returned to Rome to brief the Pope on the progress the Church in Chile has made in addressing the issue of clerical sex abuse in their country since that meeting eight months ago.
The Secretary General of the Chilean Bishops Conference is Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Pérez. He told Vatican News how the bishops spent an hour in “frank and fruitful” conversation with Pope Francis, and then continued their discussion over lunch at Santa Marta. “We told him about the discernment we are making as Church”, said Bishop Pérez, “and what developments can be expected during 2019 and 2020”.
The audience with the five Chilean bishops took place behind closed doors but, according to Bishop Pérez, Pope Francis gave them advice and suggestions, the fruit of “his experience and wisdom”. These included the need to “recognize the People of God in all their dimensions”, he said.
Bishop Pérez will represent the Chilean Bishops’ Conference at the February meeting in the Vatican on the protection of minors. “I believe it will be a very important meeting for the world Church”, he said, one that will “help all the local Churches to know how to act with clarity and intelligence” in the face of these “very serious crimes”.