Chile: Public Statement from Christians regarding the So-Called “Ecumenical Liturgy” at Punta Peuco Prison
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.And what does the Lord require of you?To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6: 8)
As Chrstians signatories of this statement, we proclaim that mercy constitutes a manifestation of God’s love. A love which will never stop embracing prodigal sons and daughters who return home. We know that there is no human sin that prevails over this divine love. A love without boundaries, which does not demand conditions be met in order to be delivered.
Nevertheless, we also believe that this infinite love may be, and is rejected by those who act against God’s will, expressing with their behaviour a lack of promptness in their conversion and penance. Their obstinacy in sin and offence, opposing the grace and truth, implies denying the testimony of the cross and Christ’s resurrection.
We are convinced that displaying rejection to the Divine Mercy is found in those who despite having committed crimes against humanity and having violated people’s human rights, have not expressed sincere repentance backed up with not providing any information leading to effectively compensate the harm they caused.
We are aware that pardon is the outcome of a long development process, it is a path rather than a word, a path we all must take in the light of total reconciliation. Pardon demands a real compensation, with actions, a true repentance. Ultimately for Christians, it demands to be absolutely attributed to the Crucified God, which means that whenever injustice exceeds humanity, only God will forgive, thus liberating us from the chains of injustice. Pardon leads to transformation and its strength is irreplaceable but its essence is gratuitousness and free will.
As a result, we are hurt by any attempt to degrade the Divine Mercy, appealing to it, attempting to legitimize the impunity of criminals sentenced for crimes against humanity and very serious human rights violations. We believe that beyond some of the requesters’ good will, proceedings such as the one in Punta Peuco do not contribute to a greater truth, justice and love among Chileans, as long as criminals do not render account of their authentic will and repentance.
The above can be confirmed from their requests for pardon, which contain studied self-justifying phraseology, avoiding responsibility, rather than expressing recognition of the truth. In fact, they did not request pardon, they requested to be pardoned, leaving the victims aside by focusing on unrecognized crimes, and the responsibility for embracing the request. There was no expression of repentance, no ethical recognition of the harm they caused. It was said that they obeyed orders, which were believed to be right, but it was never expressed that it was wrong to torture or kill and crimes against humanity were committed.
As Pope Francis said: “Mercy is not opposed to justice but rather expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe. […] "anyone who makes a mistake must pay the price. However, this is just the beginning of conversion, not its end, because one begins to feel the tenderness and mercy of God. God does not deny justice.".”For this reason, we deplore as an offense to our faith any attempt to evade human justice in the name of Christian mercy.
We believe that love, when “patient and kind” (2 Cor 13:4) does not remove the differences among people, their life stories and loss, the pain and humiliation. It is necessary to respect the victims’ dignity and their families, who always shoulder the consequences of the severe pain caused by the offenders at all times . Only then, love and mercy will help people to reunite with each other.
For this reason, we do not share expressions widely covered by mass media, aiming to break the firm will of the victims’ relatives and those survivors demanding truth, justice and reparation. On the contrary, we share our solidarity with the families and we express our fraternal compassion, in the spirit of remaining firm in justice and persevering in the virtue of hope.
We call upon Christian communities and society altogether to continue on the demand for justice, standing by those looking for their missing loved ones, thus translating this into a solemn commitment so truth, justice and reparation shall be the basis of coexistence in Chile.
We call upon victims and their families to express publicly all of our support, our active solidarity and testimony of affection and loyalty to their cause, which is also the cause of the Crucified God.
Martin Luther King Ecumenical Community
Church and Society Observatory
Alberto Croce – Voice Foundation, Argentina
Alejandro Reyes Córdova – Association of Civil Society Councils of the Metropolitan Region
Alicia Cáceres – Community of Our Lady of Victory
Alvaro Hernández – National Coordinator of Chile’s Christian Left
Alvaro Ramis – Theologist
Cristian Muñoz Roa – Good Samaritan Lutheran Church
Felipe Portales – Sociologist
Fernando Aliaga – President of Serpaj-Chile
Fernando Astudillo – Lawyer
Francisco Carreras – Autonomist Movement
Francisco Lazo – JUPIC Coordinator -Claretians, Chile
Francisco Sandoval – Basic Ecclesial Community Bishop Óscar Romero
Irene Rojas DeCambias – Lay Network
Hugo Eduardo Flores Flores
Humberto González R. – President of Comunal Macul Colegio de Profesores and Leader of Chile’s Christian Left
Jaime Escobar M. – Reflexión y Liberación magazine
José Aravena – Urracas de Emaús Chile
José Frías – Oscar Romero Committee – Chile
Juan Guerrero – Leader of Chile’s Christian Left
Juan Sepúlveda – Evangelical Pastor
Lina María Inés Tudela Poblete
Luis Bustos T. – Popular Educator, member of Paulo Freire Collective - Chile
Manuel Ossa Bezanilla – Theologist
Marco Antonio Velásquez
Marco Marín – Martin Luther King Ecumenical Community
Nelson Caucoto – Human rights lawyer
Nicolás Gómez Núñez- Sociologist
Obispa Izani Bruch – Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile
Oscar Jiménez Lazo, SJ. – Priest
Oscar Vega – Member of political commission of Citizen Left
Osvaldo Aravena – President of Más Democracia
Pablo Salvat Bologna
Patricio Véjar – Martin Luther King Ecumenical Community
Pedro Pablo Achondo S.S.C.C. – Priest
Rafael Venegas – Martin Luther King Ecumenical Community
Raúl Rosales C.
Rufino Arce Pardo – Lay Network
Sergio Castro Orellana
Sonia Salvador – Óscar Romero Committee Valparaíso
Víctor Manuel Sánchez Fredes
Víctor Osorio Reyes – Journalist