The cooperation agreement between the National Bishop’s Conference and Chile National Prosecutor was canceled after critics claimed that it entitles the church privileges and protection against abuse cases.
On April 30, the agreement was signed to encourage channeling of information between the prosecutor’s office and the church regarding complaints and accusations about the church’s sexual crime abuses. It further promotes the protection and confidentiality of whistleblowers.
However, the said agreement resulted in mistrust on the victims’ part. Consequently, Jorge Abbott, the national prosecutor, called the agreement off.
Juan Carlo Cruz, one of the victims, said that the justice system had to be equal and accessible for everyone.
Dean of the faculty of Communication of Chile’s Catholic University, Eduardo Valenzuela, said that the survivors have transformed from being mere victims to being spokespersons. They played an important role in nation building, thus resolving this predicament.
Ana Maria Celis, president of the Church’s National Council of Prevention of Abuse and Attention of Victims, added that these victims will never cease to achieve justice: that is when their abuser will be removed from the clergy. Furthermore, she said that their efforts to help these victims by generating an access channel to the justice system will continue despite the cancellation of the agreement.
Both Valenzuela and Celis spoke on May 6-7 at a Church communications workshop.
The Chilean Bishop’s Conference released a statement on Monday, confirming their cooperation to help the state find the truth and the victims achieve justice. They would also deliver assistance more than what the state demanded from them.
The agreement would have made the clergy members to release reports on suspected criminal cases, excluding those said through confession. With it, the victims’ information would have been kept private.
However, many do not believe its good intentions. A lot of people rather think that this would only foster cover-up and protection of clergy members who face sexual abuse allegations.