By Deborah Castellano Lubov

On May 15, 2018, at 4 p.m., the Holy Father met with 34 Chilean bishops in the auditorium of the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, confirmed Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke in a statement issued the same day, noting there will be a meeting the afternoon of Wednesday, May 16, and two more meetings on Thursday, May 17.

In the statement, the Vatican spokesman said: “This evening, the Pope gave each of the bishops a text with some themes on which to meditate; from this moment and until the next meeting, a time has opened which is to be dedicated exclusively to meditation and prayer.”

According to a statement published by the Holy See Press Office on May 12, Francis is meeting with the bishops May 15-17, within the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall to identify “each one’s responsibilities” and decide on the necessary “changes” for the protection of minors against sexual abuses.

“It’s not foreseen,” that statement explained, “that Pope Francis will make a statement either during or after the meetings, which will be held in the strictest confidentiality.”

The Vatican announced that 31 Diocesan and Auxiliary Bishops and two Bishops Emeritus, will take part in the meetings, and that Pope Francis will be accompanied by the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is also President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

The objective is a discernment “before God” of the responsibilities and necessary changes. “The objective of this long ‘synodal process” is to discern together, in God’s presence, each one’s responsibility for these devastating wounds, as well as to study adequate and lasting changes that will impede the repetition of acts that are always reprehensible.”

On April 8, the Pontiff announced that he wanted to establish the precise state of the situation, noted the press release.

“This meeting has its origin in the previous convocation of the Chilean Episcopate of April 8. Given the extraordinary circumstances and challenges posed by the abuses of power, sexual abuses and those of conscience, which happened in Chile in the course of the last decades, the Holy Father judges it necessary to examine in depth, their causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that, in certain cases, led to their dissimulation and to grave omissions towards the victims.”

It will be the occasion to present the Pope’s conclusions, after the reports of his envoys and the victims’ testimonies, the statement added.

Throughout the meetings, Pope Francis will share his personal conclusions following from the recent special mission to Chile, entrusted to Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, and Father Jordi Bertomeu, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, completed by numerous oral and written testimonies, which the Pope has continued to receive these last weeks.”

The Holy See stresses the importance of accompanying the victims and of preventing such abuses.

“It is essential to restore confidence in the Church by the good Pastors who, by their life, witness that they have known the voice of the Good Shepherd: that they are able to accompany the victims’ suffering and work in a determined and tireless way to prevent abuses.”

“The Holy Father thanks his Brother Bishops for their willingness to listen, docile and humble, to the Holy Spirit, and he renews his request to the people of God of Chile to continue to be in a state of prayer, so that the conversion of all can take place,” said the statement.

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