Archbishop asks president-elect Boric to recognize Chile’s ‘religious soul’

By Giselle Vargas for CNA


Gabriel Boric, who won the 2021 Chilean presidential election, speaks after a candidates’ debate, Oct. 10, 2021. / Mediabanco Agencia via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Concepción, Chile, Dec 21, 2021 / 14:22 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Fernando Natalio Chomali Garib of Concepción has expressed his hope that Gabriel Boric Font, Chile’s president elect, “will recognize and value the religious soul of the Chilean people.”

Boric, of the Apruebo Dignidad alliance, won the Dec. 19 runoff presidential election.

Out of almost 15 million registered voters in the country and abroad, about 8.3 million people voted. Of these, Boric won 55.87% or about 4.6 million votes; while his opponent José Antonio Kast of the Christian Social Front coalition won 44.13% or about 3.6 million votes.

The 35-year-old president-elect will succeed Sebastián Piñera in March 2022 and will serve a four year term. In his campaign platform Boric proposed the incorporation of a feminist perspective, the implementation of policies such as “legal, free and safe abortion on demand”, and changes to the gender identity law.

To carry out his political agenda, Boric will have to negotiate with the Senate, whose political affiliations lean slightly to the right.

In the Chamber of Deputies, 44% of the 155 representatives are on the right of the political spectrum and the rest consists of the left and other parties.

Archbishop Chomali, who is vice president of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference’s Standing Committee, told the El Mercurio newspaper Dec. 20 that he hopes Boric “will recognize the immense work that the Church and so many other institutions do” and that the new president will value “the family as the place where people learn to grow”  and as such is an “irreplaceable source of happiness.”

The prelate said he hopes Boric will act decisively on behalf of the vulnerable such as the unborn child in the womb, the patient in a hospital bed, the immigrant on the border without documents, the homeless, or the disabled.

Archbishop Chomali also encouraged Boric to promote employment, “because it is a privileged path to overcome the poverty that afflicts so many Chileans.”

“I hope he sets an example of probity and works on everything necessary to end corruption, cronyism and quotas of all kinds as they are a significant source of injustice,” he added.

The Archbishop of Concepción said he hopes Boric “will never under any circumstances endorse violence in any form, wherever it comes from.”

“Lastly, I hope it goes well for him in his presidential term,” Archbishop Chomali concluded.

The Chilean Bishops’ Conference  reminded the president-elect that the “country has expressed a vote of confidence and entrusts you with a great mission, destined to direct the destiny of our country as its first authority and first servant.”

“We pray that God will give you his wisdom and his strength, which you will undoubtedly need,” the conference said.

“The mission is always greater than our possibilities and capabilities, but we trust that—with the collaboration of citizens, the work of various social and political actors, and the spiritual strength that comes from faith and from the deepest human convictions—you can face your task with generosity, commitment and prudence,”

The bishops also said that the Catholic Church in Chile “wants to continue contributing, from its particular mission, to building a more just and fraternal humanity, where especially the poor and those who suffer are respected in their dignity.”

“Count on our support and prayer, and on the contribution of our pastoral action, which we will always develop with due respect for the democratic order of our country and its legitimately elected authorities,” the message concluded.

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