Chilean bishops establish ‘Listening Service’ to accompany abuse victims

Santiago, Chile, Jun 20, 2018 / 05:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Chilean bishops’ conference announced Tuesday the members of a “Listening Service” set up to welcome and guide victims of sexual abuse.

The list was published June 19 after Archbishop Scicluna of Malta and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu, Pope Francis’ envoys for the Pastoral Mission to Osorno confirmed the creation of this service in order to facilitate the process for victims.

The members of the Listening Service belong to the National Council for the Prevention of Abuse and Accompaniment of the Victims of the Chilean bishops’ conference and will have as their mission “to welcome and guide” those people who could not meet with the papal envoys.

Appointed by Archbishop Scicluna, the members are Pilar Ramírez, the current coordinator of the council; Josefina Martínez; Sister Marcela Sáenz; Fr. Larry Yévenes; and Fr. David Albornoz.

“The members of the National Council who will perform this service will offer a point of contact victims can trust so they can feel supported in the process of the search for the truth with charity and justice,” the statement said.

Two local Churches in Chile also announced this week investigations into priests accused of sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Temuco made known in a June 18 statement the cases of three diocesan priests accused of the sexual abuse of minors.

Pablo Walter Isler Venegas was sanctioned October 20, 2015 for the sexual abuse of minors  and was prohibited from the public exercise of the priestly ministry and pastoral work with adolescents and young people.

He was also “definitively prohibited” from residing in that diocese or from visiting the parishes of Lautaro, Imperial, and Traiguén without the prior and express authorization  of the bishop.

The process began in 2011 when the first accusations were received.

Isler had left the Temuco diocese in 2003, “and was performing various pastoral works in the Prelature of Illapel.”

The diocese explained that  “at the express request of the victims who at the time asked for complete confidentiality, the case had not been made public.”

“From what we have learned over the years,  we realized that respect and protection for the victims in no case exempts us from the moral duty of informing the community of these grave crimes,” the statement says.

The second case involves Juan Carlos Mercado Elgueta who in 2013 submitted his resignation from the priestly ministry following a preliminary investigation for the sexual abuse of minors.

The third priest sanctioned is José Vicente Bastías Ñanco, who is facing a canonical trial for the sexual abuse of minors and who is “temporarily suspended from the public exercise of the ministry.”

The diocese’s statement  reiterated the “firm disposition” of Bishop Héctor Eduardo Vargas Bastidas “to take up the challenges Pope Francis has called for, by ensuring the Church has healthy and safe environments people can trust, for boys, girls and youths.”

And the Vicariate Apostolic of Aysén stated June 18 that it had begun a canonical investigation into Fr. Porfirio Díaz Reyes, accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.

The accusation was made to the Council for Care and Hope of the vicariate June 17 and refers to incidents that took place in the parish in Puerto Aysén in 2002.

As a precautionary measure, the priest “is suspended from the public exercise of the priestly ministry while the investigation lasts,” a statement from the Aysén vicariate apostolic stated.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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