UC Seminary addresses the crisis of the Church in Latin America

Based on the unpublished report delivered by the UC Commission for the Analysis of the Crisis of the Catholic Church, the “Latin American Seminar on the Crisis of the Church” was held via streaming, the objective of which was to deepen the results of this document and apply them to the reality of other countries in the region. 

In his opening words, the UC rector, Ignacio Sánchez, stressed that “this seminar will help us see the sources of collaboration in Latin America so that, with the truth, respect for the facts and compassion for the victims, we jointly promote an ecclesial transformation that involves us and challenges us all ”.

The details of this study carried out by an interdisciplinary team from UC were presented by the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and president of the Commission, Eduardo Valenzuela, who commented that “our commission advocates a strong commitment to the victims, recognizing and manage the sexual abuse of minors as an inexcusable crime (…) in addition to welcoming and reconciling formally and publicly with the victims of priestly abuse, just as Pope Francis did at the time ”.

The activity was moderated by Claudia Leal, professor of the UC Faculty of Theology, UC Faculty of Theology , and included the participation of María Inés Franck, member and secretary of the Pastoral Council for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Argentine Episcopal Conference and of the Latin American Council of CEPROME (Center for the Protection of Minors); Daniel Portillo, director of the Center for Research and Interdisciplinary Training for the Protection of Minors at the Universidad Pontificia de México ; Romy Chang, founding partner of Estudio Padilla & Chang Abogados and professor at the Law School of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and Alberto Toutin.

The scope of the study

All the panelists at this seminar agreed on the importance of this report, which serves as a starting point for further and in-depth research on the subject. The first to speak was María Inés Frank, who highlighted the projective capacity of this document and delved into the experience of her country during this crisis. “The document presents us with a complex panorama, which is qualitatively not too different from the panorama we have in other Latin American countries. That is why, I believe, it enlightens us all “, since” it sharply delivers elements to take into account when projecting ourselves as a Church in the years that follow, “he added.

For his part, Daniel Portillo emphasized the accountability that the Church must make in the face of the abuses committed, reflected on the process of reparation for the victims and communication actions around the crisis. “With these documents we began to write one more page in reflection and prevention efforts within the Catholic Church in Latin America. We are aware that this terrible crime can hardly be banished with partial or particular efforts, but prevention does not work with particular interests; if not under a collegial, synodal, transversal, interdisciplinary and communion spirit ”, commented the priest. 

Next, the lawyer and academic from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Romy Chang, narrated the Peruvian experience with the complaints of sexual abuse in her country, which was strongly marked by classism and in which the communications media had a fundamental role in the fiscal decisions that were taken. Regarding the report, the academic commented: “It will serve in Peru as a benchmark because it is necessary and essential to re-establish trust. And to reestablish it, criminal law is not used, but other means are required: it is necessary to converse, expose the problem, think of solutions, seek the ways of reparation and heal wounds ”.

Finally, this panel was closed by the Superior General of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, Alberto Toutin, who reflected on and addressed this issue in his role as “concerned reader” for being a member of the Church. “The document helps us to see what has happened not only as something external, but as something that has happened to us as a Church in Chile (…) an attempt to understand a painful and shameful situation (…) it is about helping to see precisely what we are ashamed to look at, what we did not want to look at or, even more radically, what we were culturally blind ”.

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