Bishop-elect in Chile resigns after controversial statements on sex abuse crisis

Bishop-elect in Chile resigns after controversial statements on sex abuse crisis

Bishop-elect in Chile resigns after controversial statements on sex abuse crisis

Catholic and Jewish leaders from Santiago, Chile, gathered on May 28, 2019. (Credit: Archdiocese of Santiago.)

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an auxiliary bishop-elect in Santiago, Chile, after he made controversial comments on the sexual abuse crisis, women in the Church, and the Jewish community.

ROME – Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an auxiliary bishop-elect in Santiago, Chile, after he made controversial comments on the sexual abuse crisis, women in the Church, and the Jewish community.

“The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Father Carlos Eugenio Irarrázaval Errázuriz as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Santiago,” said a statement released by the local church.

“The decision was fruit of a dialogue and joint discernment, in which Pope Francis has valued the spirit of faith and humility of the priest, in favor of unity and the good of the pilgrimage church in Chile,” it continued.

Santiago has been hard-hit by the clerical sexual abuse scandal, with its two former archbishops being subpoenaed by local prosecutors to give testimony after being accused of covering up cases of abuse.

Irarrázaval got into trouble just one day after his appointment in late May, when he said there’s no benefit in continuing to stir the pot — using the local colloquialism “stirring reheated rice is worthless” — when it comes to the abuse scandals in Chile.

This caused uproar among survivors of clerical sexual abuse.

But he didn’t stop there: The following day, in an interview with CNN Chile, he said that “since there was no woman seated at the table in the Last Supper” they had no role in the Church. According to Irarrázaval, 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.”

Asked about his comment on “stirring reheated rice,” Irarrázaval said that his metaphor meant that “we have to touch bottom. Staying with what we already know … There’s nothing new there. What we have to do is get to the bottom of the situation to solve the problem and we need to learn from this to look forward.”

“The idea is this one,” he said. “Let’s look forward, learning from the past and caring for the poor victims, whom we have to help to heal their wounds.”

On May 29, he apologized for his words, saying 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.

The date for the episcopal ordination had never been announced, and has now been cancelled. Irarrázaval will continue in the priesthood.

The second auxiliary bishop that Francis had appointed to Santiago, Father Alberto Lorenzelli, an Argentinian raised in Italy who’s been in Chile for the past five years, will be ordained a bishop later this month.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma


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