Chilean bishop-elect apologizes for comments on abuse crisis, women


May 30, 2019

By Inés San Martín

After the uproar caused by his words regarding Chile’s clerical abuse scandals and the role of women in the Church, the newly appointed auxiliary bishop of Santiago apologized for his comments.

“I would like to sincerely ask for forgiveness for the pain and uncertainty my words might have caused,” Bishop-elect Carlos Irarrazaval said May 29.

The Vatican announced a week ago that Pope Francis had appointed him as an auxiliary bishop to Chile’s capital. A day later, Irarrazaval said it’s time to “look towards the future,” implying that the Church needed to put the clerical abuse crisis behind it, using the colloquialism, “stirring reheated rice is worthless.”

Chile is currently ground zero for the worldwide clerical abuse scandal. Santiago’s two living former archbishops have been subpoenaed by the local prosecutors’ office to testify on charges that they covered up cases of the abuse of minors.

But the bishop-elect had more things to say last week: In an interview with CNN Chile, he said that “since there was no woman seated at the table in the Last Supper,” women had no role in the Church. According to Irarrazaval, this was a choice Jesus made, and not “for ideological reasons.”

“Jewish culture is chauvinistic even today,” he’d said a few seconds earlier. “If you see a Jew walking down the street, the woman is 10 steps behind, but Jesus Christ breaks this dynamic; Jesus Christ speaks with women – with the adulterous woman, with the Samaritan woman – Jesus Christ allows for women to care for him. Who did he choose to announce [his] resurrection? Magdalena, a woman.”

In his apology, Irarrazaval said that he understands his comments on women and the “crisis we’re going through” were particularly painful.

“I am committed to working for the communion of the Church, knowing that in synodality we are all builders – women and men – with the richness of our differences, so that the Church becomes more welcoming and inclusive,” he wrote.

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