ROME – As the Catholic Church in Chile awaits Pope Francis’s decisions regarding the future of some 30 bishops who handed in their resignations in mid-May, some frustrated Chileans are running out of patience and delivering their message loud and clear: They don’t just want heads to roll, they want them to hang.
Commuters and passers-by on Monday in Chile’s capital, Santiago, saw three life-size dolls portraying three Catholic cardinals hanging from a much-travelled local bridge, with a sign over the cardinals-in-effigy reading: “Abusive priests to be hanged as traitors.”
Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the most outspoken survivors of clerical sexual abuse in Chile, “strongly condemned this barbarity of hanging dolls off a bridge representing priests.”
“We cannot fall into this spiral of violence,” he said on Twitter. “Let’s argue, raise our voice, denounce, take criminals to justice. But NOT like this.”
Cruz is one of three victims of Father Fernando Karadima who, in late April, was welcomed by Pope Francis in the Vatican.
The fringe Movimiento Socialpatriota (“Social Patriotic Movement”) claimed responsibility for the action, saying that the symbolic gesture was meant to represent the “desire of the Chilean people for having a national society that is healthy, fair and free.”
“But against this desire, we see that certain forces are trying to normalize actions that are sick and damaging,” they said in a statement released on Monday. “Pedophilia, sexual depredation and other deviations already have real lobbies of influence at the highest levels.”
One of the aspects of this problem, the group asserted, is the “depravation” found in a part of the Catholic clergy, with cases being covered for years and abusers protected.
Those responsible for the three hanging cardinals wrote that right now pedophilia goes “unpunished” in Chile and that it cannot be allowed, just as it’s not possible to normalize a “culture of relativism, least of all at the time when we’re supposed to be protecting our children and the youth.”
“We cannot be fooled, this happens at every level, on the left and the right, conservative and progressives,” they said. “Today it’s the clergy, but there are many more situations where this perverse game is common.”
They close their statement saying that they’re led by “common sense” and, as such, they will continue to fight against those “destroying our people, especially those who prey on the most innocent, weakest and unprotected.”
Earlier this year, in February, the movement that also protests against immigrants had already staged a similar display, hanging not cardinals but four dolls of unknown men, under the header of “Pedophile dead, problem resolved.”
On its website, the movement claims to want to guarantee dignified conditions of life for everyone in Chile, based in the “natural tendency” of human groups to form cultures, and they want to accomplish this through what they call the “Third Path,” meaning, they’re neither aligned with the left nor the right.
They claim to be a “nationalist group” that bases its ideology in a deeply rooted “anti-Marxism” and “anti-capitalism,” though preserving the “goodness” of both. They also claim that “the fashion of feminism” and a “gay dictatorship” are the enemies to overcome.