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Chilean abuse victim: Pope told me to accept being gay, God made me this way

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 09:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A victim of the Chilean clergy abuse crisis who met privately with Pope Francis told a Spanish news source that the Pope told him to accept himself and his same-sex attraction, because God made him that way.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Chilean abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, met with Pope Francis privately in April after being invited to the Vatican along with other victims of abuse.

In comments to the press on May 2, Cruz said that the Pope was “sincere, attentive and deeply apologetic for the situation [of sexual abuse].”

“For me, the pope was contrite, he was truly sorry,” Cruz said. “I felt also that he was hurting, which for me was very solemn, because it's not often that the pope says sorry to you...he said, 'I was part of the problem, I caused this and I apologize.'”

In a later interview with Spanish newspaper El País, Cruz was asked whether he and Pope Francis had spoken about homosexuality during their meeting, as Cruz identifies as gay.

Cruz confirmed that they did speak about homosexuality, and that he explained to the Pope that he is not a bad person and tries not to hurt anybody.

“He told me ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are,’" Cruz recalled.

The comment is controversial because it evokes a theological debate about the causes of homosexuality.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

The Catechism also states that “deep-seated” homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered," and that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The Vatican has not yet confirmed or clarified the comments that Cruz said the Pope made regarding homosexuality.

 

 

This story has been updated after its original publication.

 

Pope on Pentecost: The power of the Holy Spirit changes hearts

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 07:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Though people may promise to change things, it is the third person of the Holy Trinity that creates real change through the reinvigoration and renewal of hearts, Pope Francis said on Pentecost Sunday.

“Plenty of people promise change, new beginnings, prodigious renewals, but experience teaches us that no earthly attempt to change reality can ever completely satisfy the human heart,” the pope said May 20.

“Yet the change that the Spirit brings is different. It does not revolutionize life around us, but changes our hearts.”

This change, Francis continued, does not take away all of our problems, but “liberates us within so that we can face them. It does not give us everything at once, but makes us press on confidently, never growing weary of life. The Spirit keeps our hearts young.”

Speaking during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Francis noted that when Catholics want to bring about real change in their lives, they should pray to the Holy Spirit.

“Who among us does not need a change? Particularly when we are downcast, wearied by life’s burdens, oppressed by our own weakness, at those times when it is hard to keep going and loving seems impossible,” the pope said.

In those moments, people need a powerful “jolt” or “reinvigoration” of the Spirit, he stated, pointing out how in the creed, Catholics profess that the Holy Spirit is the “giver of life.”

“How good it would be for us each day to feel this jolt of life!” he encouraged. “To say when we wake up each morning: ‘Come, Holy Spirit, come into my heart, come into my day.’”

Just as wind brings change to the environment – “warmth when it is cold, cool when it is hot” – the Holy Spirit, “on a very different level, does the same.”

“He is the divine force that changes the world,” Francis stated.

Reflecting on the Acts of the Apostles, and how the power of the Holy Spirit sent the disciples to preach and convert pagans in different lands, including Philip who was sent “from Jerusalem to Gaza,” the pope exclaimed: “How heartrending that name [Gaza] sounds to us today! May the Spirit change hearts and situations and bring peace to the Holy Land.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led the Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square, where he also prayed for Jerusalem, saying he was spiritually united to a prayer vigil which took place May 19 in Jerusalem for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

“Today we continue to invoke the Holy Spirit to inspire the will and gestures of dialogue and reconciliation in the Holy Land and Middle East,” he said.

He also spoke about his “beloved Venezuela,” asking the Holy Spirit to give the Venezuelan people – citizens and political leaders – “the wisdom to meet the path of peace and unity,” and prayed for the 11 prisoners who died Saturday during a prison riot.

May 19 Francis sent a telegram through the Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for an airplane crash in Cuba which killed over 100 people. Offering his prayers for the victims and their families, he asked the Lord to give all the affected the gifts of spiritual serenity and Christian hope.

Pope on Pentecost: The power of the Holy Spirit changes hearts

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 08:58 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Though people may promise to change things, it is the third person of the Holy Trinity that creates real change through the reinvigoration and renewal of hearts, Pope Francis said on Pentecost Sunday.

Pope announces June 29 consistory to create 14 new cardinals

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 05:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There will be a consistory June 29 to create 14 new cardinals, each of whom express the “universality” of the Church, Pope Francis announced Sunday after his Regina Coeli address.

“Their provenance expresses the universality of the Church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people on earth,” he said May 20, noting that the new cardinals from the Diocese of Rome also show “the inseparable link between the see of Peter and the particular Churches spread throughout the world.”

“Let us pray for the new cardinals, so that by confirming their adherence to Christ, the Most Merciful and faithful High Priest (see Hebrews 2:17), they will help me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome for the good of the whole faithful People of God,” the pope said.

Among the newly appointed cardinals is His Beatitude Louis Raphael Sako I, the patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean Catholic Church and the archbishop of Baghdad.

Those from the Diocese of Rome and the Holy See who have been named are: Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Kondrad Krajewski, papal almoner; and Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, Rome’s vicar general and archpriest of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

From around the world are: Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan; Bishop Antonio do Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal; Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru; Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Tamatave, Madagascar; Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi of Aquila, Italy; and Archbishop Thomas Aquino Mango Maeda of Osaka, Japan.

Pope Francis made particular note of three who will be receiving red hats – Archbishop Emeritus Sergio Obeso Rivera of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico; Prelate Emeritus Toribio Ticono Porco of Corocoro, Bolivia; and Claretian Fr. Aquilina Bocos Merino – who he said “have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church.”

The day of the consistory, the June 29 Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the new cardinals will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica alongside the new metropolitan archbishops named during the previous year, who traditionally receive the pallium from the pope on that day.

Most of the newly appointed cardinals are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. The archbishop emeriti Obeso Rivera and Ticono Porco, and Fr. Aquilina Bocos Merino, are over the age of 80.

Pope announces June 29 consistory to create 14 new cardinals

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 06:08 am (EWTN News/CNA).- There will be a consistory June 29 to create 14 new cardinals, each of whom express the "universality" of the Church, Pope Francis announced Sunday after his Regina Coeli address.

Francis tells youth to evangelize through the ‘digital world’

Vatican City, May 19, 2018 / 11:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Sharing the Gospel with people at the peripheries might not even require stepping outside the door, Pope Francis said Saturday, encouraging Christians to evangelize through encounters in the “digital world.”

Especially for young people, “the ends of the earth...are quite relative and always easily ‘navigable,’” he said May 19. “The digital world - the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available - dissolves borders, eliminates distances, and reduces differences.”

But if we lack a “sincere gift of our lives,” he continued, “we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life. To share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands a gift of oneself in the vocation that God, who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us.”

The pope’s words were published in a message on the theme, “Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all,” published ahead of the 92nd World Missionary Day, which will take place Oct. 21.

Francis explained that the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment will also take place in October, which is the “month of the missions,” and that the Synod “will prove to be one more occasion to help us become missionary disciples, ever more passionately devoted to Jesus and his mission, to the ends of the earth.”

While the pope’s message was for “all Christians who live out in the Church the adventure of their life as children of God,” he reflected specifically on the missionary role of young people.

Addressing youth, he said, “what leads me to speak to everyone through this conversation with you is the certainty that the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us.”

Quoting the words of St. John Paul II in “Redemptoris Missio,” Francis said: “Mission revitalizes faith,” and emphasized that young men and women who want to follow Christ need “to seek, to discover, and to persevere” in their God-given vocations, which will lead to joy.

“Dear young people, do not be afraid of Christ and his Church! For there we find the treasure that fills life with joy,” he said, and joy and enthusiasm can be powerful means of transmission of the faith.

Likewise, spreading the faith, which is “the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love.” Love, he underlined, “generates sharing in charity with all those far from the faith, indifferent to it and perhaps even hostile and opposed to it.”

Pope Francis explained that he knows to joyfully share the faith can be a challenge, and that he is aware of both the “lights and shadows of youth.” But he encouraged young Christians to be strong and to let evil, instead of being a discouragement, be “an incentive to ever greater love.”  

“Many men and women, and many young people, have generously sacrificed themselves, even at times to martyrdom, out of love for the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters,” he said.

Christ’s love for us was demonstrated in his sacrifice upon the cross, the pope continued, noting that “to be set afire by the love of Christ is to be consumed by that fire, to grow in understanding by its light and to be warmed by its love.”

“At the school of the saints, who open us to the vast horizons of God, I invite you never to stop wondering: ‘What would Christ do if he were in my place?’”

Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI to be canonized October 14

Vatican City, May 19, 2018 / 04:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Following a meeting between the Council of Cardinals and Pope Francis Saturday, the Vatican announced that Bl. Pope Paul VI and Bl. Oscar Romero will be canonized together on Oct. 14, 2018.

During an ordinary consistory May 19, Francis decreed that the two blesseds will be canonized alongside four others: Bl. Francesco Spinelli, a diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Bl. Vincenzo Romano, a diocesan priest from Torre de Greco in Italy; Bl. Maria Caterina Kasper, a German nun and founder of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus, founder of the Congregation of the Misioneras Cruzadas de la Iglesia Sisters.

As expected, the canonizations will take place during the 2018 Synod of Bishops on the topic of young people, the faith and vocational discernment, which is set to take place Oct. 3-28, 2018.

The Vatican had announced March 7 that Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero would be canonized following the recognition of a second miracle through their intercession.

Born Giovanni Montini in 1897 in the town of Concesio, Italy, the future Pope Paul VI was ordained a priest at the age of 22. He served as Archbishop of Milan prior to his election as Bishop of Rome in 1963.

As pope, he oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by Pope St. John XXIII, and in 1969 promulgated a new Roman Missal. He died in 1978, and was beatified by Pope Francis Oct. 19, 2014.

Pope Francis himself unofficially confirmed the news of Paul VI's canonization during his annual meeting with the priests of Rome Feb. 17.

Apart from his role in the council, Paul VI is most widely know for his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, which was published in 1968 and reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception in wake of the sexual revolution. This year marks the 50th anniversary the historic encyclical.

Both miracles attributed to Paul VI's intercession involve the healing of an unborn child.

Bl. Oscar Romero, who was beatified by Pope Francis May 23, 2015, in El Salvador, was the archbishop of the nation's capital city of San Salvador. He was shot while celebrating Mass March 24, 1980, during the birth of a civil war between leftist guerrilla forces and the dictatorial government of the right.

An outspoken critic of the violence and injustices being committed at the time, Romero was declared a martyr who was killed in hatred of the faith for his vocal defense of human rights.

Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI to be canonized October 14

Vatican City, May 19, 2018 / 05:19 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Following a meeting between the Council of Cardinals and Pope Francis Saturday, the Vatican announced that Bl. Pope Paul VI and Bl. Oscar Romero will be canonized together on Oct. 14, 2018.

Commentary: The pope’s next steps on sexual abuse in Chile

Denver, Colo., May 18, 2018 / 12:13 pm (CNA).- After meeting with him for three days, and reading his reflections on the problem of clerical sexual abuse in their country, 34 Chilean bishops submitted their resignation to Pope Francis Friday.

The pope is unlikely to accept all their resignations. He is likely to accept resignations from those at the center of Chile’s sexual abuse scandal, and those whom he has accused of destroying documents, mishandling abuse-related investigations, and moving priests accused of malfeasance from parish to parish, rather than handling the problem.

It is, for any Catholic, discouraging to read that shepherds, entrusted with the salvation of souls, would do such things. But to American Catholics it is not surprising- the illusion that bishops are above such things was shattered for most U.S. Catholics by the sexual abuse scandals of 2002.

Sexual abuse is not unique to the Catholic Church. In fact, there is not even evidence that sexual abuse is more likely to occur in a Catholic setting than in another context- in the U.S., children are sexually abused in public schools with startling regularity, and an appalling number of children are sexually abused or assaulted by their own family members.

But when the Church is implicated in a scandal like this, she loses the credibility to decry the evil of sexual assault against children. She also diminishes, to many people, the claim that grace fosters righteousness. Sexual abuse in the Church is a counter-witness to the Gospel’s claims, and a foil to the evangelical witness of Catholics striving for holiness.

Because of what she claims, moral behavior is expected of the Church and her leaders. When those leaders harm children, or fail to take such harm seriously, they give real and dispiriting scandal.

It is refreshing that Francis chastised the Chilean bishops for “serious negligence,” and for the clericalist attitudes that fostered it. Accepting the resignations of negligent bishops, and perhaps subjecting some of them to canonical trials, may begin to restore the credibility of the Church in Chile- a place where parishes have been set to fire and protests outside the apostolic nunciature have been violent.

Accepting some resignations might also help to restore the pope’s credibility on this issue- damaged by years of fervently denying some parts of the problem, by his accusations of “calumny” against victims, and by the revelation that he was informed of credible allegations against a sitting bishop in 2015, and did not act until a media spectacle earlier this year compelled him to.

But accepting resignations won’t solve systemic problems regarding sexual abuse in the life of the Church. Nor, actually, would penal trials, undertaken through a process for allegations of episcopal negligence established by Francis in 2016, and not yet put to use. Such trials might restore justice and repair scandal in individual cases. They might even serve to reform offenders, which is among the purposes of criminal justice. But the issue of clerical sexual abuse is broader than individual cases.

It is encouraging that Francis has called for systemic change for the Church in Chile - a systemic change that is likely needed in many parts of the world. It is particularly encouraging that Francis has noted the role seminaries play in preventing abuse, especially by screening out candidates with immature or gravely disordered sexuality.

The call for change is familiar to Americans, who have become accustomed to measures designed to place child protection at the fore.

In 2002, the U.S. bishops promulgated norms for addressing allegations of sexual abuse, and a “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Those documents emphasized the importance of referring allegations to civil authorities, and  called for background checks for adults in regular contact with children, training designed to promote vigilance about unseemly situations, and lay review boards involved, mandatorily, in the process of investigating allegations that minors or vulnerable adults have been abused.

Of course, such measures are themselves subject to abuse, to overreach, to scapegoating, or to becoming a procedural veneer aimed at restoring credibility, without being taken seriously enough to prevent the scourge of child abuse. The U.S. approach is not perfect, and some parts are in need of rather serious reform.

Nevertheless, without a plan to change the praxis and culture of the Church, replacing negligent bishops won’t prevent the possibility of sexual abuse in Chile, or anywhere. Those Chilean bishops who remain in office must return to their country and begin developing their own plan - it must be thorough, direct, and just - and then they must have the humility to implement it seriously.

Other regions in the Church would be wise to begin doing the same - no place is immune from the problem of sexual abuse.

But the Chilean bishops are not the only ones with work to do after their historic meeting with the Holy Father. In the Church, the pope exercises supreme, full, immediate, and universal power. He is a figure without parallel in any other institution. He always has the authority to act, and the buck usually stops with him.

The pope thus has questions to answer about his own responsibility for the Chilean abuse scandal. Of course, he has apologized for his “serious errors” in judgment, and now he has called for change in Chile. But do victims- and parents- deserve that he account for those serious errors?

Is it yet understood how he could have received credible allegations in 2015, and discounted them until a media scandal in 2018? Was the pope misled? How? What has he learned from his own “serious errors?” How will he ensure they are not repeated?

The pope told the Chilean bishops that “unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and of sexuality” have diminished the prophetic vigor of the Church in Chile. He’s right. Guilty bishops may never again be credible prophets in their own homelands.

But this scandal, compounded by so many sexual abuse scandals of the past, has diminished the prophetic vigor of the Church globally, and the pope has the responsibility to address that. To do so, he likely needs to address his own role in the scandal, and speak transparently about what happened, and why. He needs to demonstrate more than contrition- he needs to give witness to reform of the judgment that caused “serious errors.”

John Henry Newman wrote that God chose men, not angels, to be his priests and bishops, in part so that the entire world could see grace working through sinners, and transforming them. The Church, and the world, need the witness of God’s grace, and the witness of real and authentic transformation.

May the pope, who prayed that all victims of abuse would encounter Christ’s love, give prophetic witness to his own transformative encounter with the Lord.

 

This commentary reflects the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Catholic News Agency.

All Chilean bishops present resignation, await decision from pope

Vatican City, May 18, 2018 / 06:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At the close of their 3-day meeting with Pope Francis, all the bishops of Chile asked victims of the country's abuse scandal for forgiveness and presented written resignations to the pope, who must decide whether to accept or reject them.

In a written May 18 statement, the bishops thanked Pope Francis for his “paternal listening and fraternal correction,” and asked forgiveness for the pain caused to victims, the pope, the People of God and the country due to their “serious errors and omissions.”

The statement was read aloud to the press in Spanish by Bishop Juan Ignacio González of San Bernardo, a member of Chile's national commission for the protection of minors, and in Italian by Bishop Fernando Ramos, auxiliary bishop of Santiago and secretary of the Chilean bishops’ conference.

In the statement, the bishops thanked Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu for the in-depth investigation of the crisis they carried out earlier this year.

They also thanked victims for their “perseverance and courage, despite the enormous personal, spiritual, social and familial difficulties they have had to face, many times in the midst of incomprehension and attacks from their own ecclesial community.”

They asked for the victims' help going forward and said that at the end of their last session with the pope May 17, each of the active bishops presented a written resignation and will await the pope’s decision on whether to accept or reject it.

In comments to the press, González said that for now, the bishops will return to their dioceses and will continue their work as usual until hearing from the pope, who will either reject their resignation, accept it immediately, or put it into effect only once a new bishop is named.

The May 15-17 gathering between the pope and the 34 Chilean bishops, two of whom have already retired, was called for by Pope Francis himself last month following Scicluna and Bertomeu's investigation into abuse cover-up by Church hierarchy in Chile, resulting in a 2,300-page report. To date, that report has not been made public.

The investigation was initially centered around Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, appointed to the diocese in 2015 and accused by at least one victim of covering up abuses of Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.

In 2011, Karadima was convicted by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of abusing minors and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude. Allegations of cover-up were also made against three other bishops – Andrés Arteaga, Tomislav Koljatic and Horacio Valenzuela – whom Karadima's victims accuse of knowing about Karadima’s crimes and failing to act.

Pope Francis initially defended Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop's guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January. However, after receiving Scicluna's report, Francis apologized and asked to meet the bishops and more outspoken survivors in person.

In a scathing letter that was leaked to Chilean television station T13 May 17, Pope Francis skewered the Chilean prelates for a systematic cover-up of abuse involving not only the destruction of documents, but superficial investigations that led to moving accused abusers to other schools or parishes where they had access to children.

Although victims of the Chilean abuse scandals have often been dismissed and accused of making up stories to attack the Church, the pope's letter - which he gave to the bishops during their 3-day meeting - appeared to side with the victims based on the conclusions of Scicluna's report.

In his footnotes, Pope Francis noted how the investigation found that while some religious had been expelled from their orders due to “immoral conduct,” blaming their “criminal acts” on simple weakness, they were then transferred to other parishes or dioceses and given jobs where they had “daily and direct contact with minors.”

The reference was likely not only to Karadima, but to other religious orders in which scandals have recently come to light, including the Salesians, Franciscans and the Marist Brothers.

In the letter, Francis said there had also been serious flaws in handling cases of “delicta graviora,” meaning “grave offenses,” which “corroborate with some of the worrying information that some Roman dicasteries have begun to be aware of.”

These errors, he said, have to do particularly with the reception of complaints and “notitiae crimini,” or information on the crimes, which “in not a few cases have been classified very superficially as improbable,” despite bearing signs of being a serious crime.

In some cases, the pope wrote, it took months for complaints to be investigated, and in others they were not investigated at all. In still other cases, he said, there was clear evidence of “very serious negligence in the protection of children and vulnerable children on the part of bishops and religious superiors.”

Pope Francis said he was “perplexed and ashamed” to have read statements saying Church officials investigating abuse allegations had been pressured, and that in some cases, documents had been destroyed by those in charge of diocesan archives.

These actions, Francis said, constitute “an absolute lack of respect for canonical procedure and, even more, reprehensible practices which must be avoided in the future.”

The problems, the pope said, do not belong to just one group of people, but are the result of a fractured seminary process.

In the case of many abusers, problems had been detected while they were in seminary or the novitiate, he said, noting that Scicluna's investigation contained “serious accusations against some bishops or superiors who sent priests suspected of active homosexuality to these educational institutions.”

In the letter, Pope Francis stressed the need to recognize not only the damage done, but also the underlying causes that led to abuse and cover-up, and to identify ways to repair the pain and suffering many have endured.

He said the problem is not isolated, but everyone is responsible, “I being the first,” and that no one can be exempted by “moving the problem onto the backs of others.”

“We need a change, we know it, we need it and we desire it,” he said, and encouraged bishops to put Christ at the center. He said in recent history, the Chilean Church has lost this focus, putting itself at the center instead of the Lord.

“I don't know what came first,” he said, “if the loss of prophetic strength resulted in the change of center, or the change of center led to the loss of the prophecy that was so characteristic in you.”

He cautioned the bishops against assuming an attitude of “messianism,” in which they seek to promote themselves as “the only interpreters of God's will.” Francis also warned the prelates not to fall into an “elite psychology,” which he said can overshadow the way issues are handled.

“An elite or elitist psychology ends up generating dynamics of division, separation and closed circles that lead to narcissistic and authoritarian spiritualities in which, instead of evangelizing, the important thing is to feel special, different than others, thus making it clear that they are interested in neither Jesus Christ or others,” he said.  

Messianism, elitism and clericalism, Francis continued, “are all synonyms for perversion in ecclesial being; and also synonymous with perversion is the loss of the healthy conscience of knowing that we belong to the holy People of God, which precedes us and which – thanks to God – will succeed us.”

Prayer and sincere recognition of one's failings are necessary for grace to work, he said, adding that this saves a person from “the temptation and pretension of wanting to occupy spaces, and especially in a place that does not correspond to us: that of the Lord.”

The pope stressed that removing people from office “must be done, but it is not enough, we must go further.”

The problems the Chilean Church faces are wider, he said, and because of this “it would be irresponsible on our part not to delve into the roots and structures that allowed these specific events to happen and to be perpetuated.”

“It would be a serious omission on our part not to know the roots,” he said, and “to believe that only the removal of people, without anything more, would generate the health of the body,” calling that “a great fallacy.”

“There is no doubt that it will help, and it is necessary to do it, but I repeat, it is not enough, since this thought would dispense us from the responsibility and participation that corresponds to us within the ecclesial body,” the pope said.

Pope Francis closed his letter asking the bishops to guard against the temptation of wanting to “save their skin” and their reputations, explaining that “the severity of events does not allow us to become expert hunters of scapegoats.”

“All this requires us to have seriousness and co-responsibility to take on the problems as symptoms of an ecclesial whole, which we are invited to analyze, and which also asks us to seek all the necessary mediation so that they are never perpetuated again.”