Presence of disgraced bishops in Holy Week reopens Chile’s wounds


April 23, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Rome – On the Catholic calendar, Holy Week is a period of meditation on Jesus’ death and resurrection, a time for mea culpas and healing wounds. Yet in Chile, a country deeply scarred by clerical abuse scandals, several bishops being investigated for either abuse or cover-up chose Holy Week to reopen wounds instead.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of eight Chilean bishops over the past year, after all of them offered to step down last May. The country’s bishops find themselves engulfed in scandal due to decades of mismanagement, cover-up and, in some cases, personally having committed abuses. The pontiff also accused them of committing crimes connected to the abuse of minors, including destroying evidence.

Five of those bishops nonetheless showed up at Holy Week celebrations, in some cases discreetly, in others as concelebrants to the apostolic administrators Francis has appointed to replace them. That includes Bishop Gonzalo Duarte, who’s been accused not only of covering up cases of abuse but of abuse of power with sexual connotations against seminarians.

As Father Eugenio de la Fuente summarized on Twitter, during the Holy Thursday Chrism Masses celebrated in five Chilean dioceses, five bishops belonging to the “Pandora’s box” described by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the lead Vatican investigator in Chile, showed up to either to preside or concelebrate.

“It hurts, disappoints [and] wounds,” de la Fuente wrote.

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