April 10, 2021

The president of Chile is hurt and disappointed by the abuses of a Jesuit friend

The president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, said Tuesday that he felt "a deep pain, a deep disappointment" to learn that Renato Poblete, an emblematic Chilean Jesuit of whom he was a friend, sexually abused more than twenty women for almost 50 years.

"I was a friend of Father Renato Poblete for a long time, he was a friend of my parents, he was a friend of mine, I have or had great admiration or appreciation for him," Piñera revealed in the private Megavision channel.

"I knew this (the abuses) because the Jesuits themselves informed me, I felt a deep pain, a deep disappointment," the Chilean president added.

On July 30, the Society of Jesus revealed the result of an investigation that determined that Poblete, who died in 2010 and achieved high figuration in the congregation, was for 48 years a sexual predator who abused 22 women, including several minors

The investigation stated that at least 24 other possible victims did not want to make their cases public, that Poblete maintained half a dozen stable relationships between 1960 and 2008 and that a victim was even forced to abort.

Renato Poblete was between 1982 and 2000 the chaplain of the Hogar de Cristo, a charitable institution created by San Alberto Hurtado in 1944, which today serves thousands of people every day.

In 2009, the Jesuit received from the then President Michelle Bachelet the Bicentennial Prize as recognition of the Government for his social service career and in the first Government of Sebastián Piñera his name was given to a park next to the Mapocho River, with a large his statue that was cast when the abuses were revealed, along with suppressing his name.

"We had put her in the Renato Poblete park because it was what I knew about him, that he had been a man who had dedicated his life to helping the poorest, but when I met this other story I felt a deep pain, a disappointment in what deep, "the president insisted.

"When there is a person that one appreciates and admires and suddenly discovers that he was not the person one knew, he feels a lot of pain, a lot of frustration, a lot of disappointment and a little bit of anger, because he cheated us all," he said.

"I have wondered a lot, how did anyone notice? And even the Jesuits have paid a high price, because when what happened to (the former priest Fernando) Karadima, many Jesuits said 'how is it possible that they did not realize? ' and they indicated with the finger to all those who were close. You never have to spit in the sky, the stone fell on your head, "he said.

Fernando Karadima was an influential pastor, formator of half a hundred priests, of whom five became bishops, but who also committed abuses for decades and whose case served to open the floodgates of a deep moral breakdown in the Chilean Church, plunged today In a crisis not overcome.

Sebastián Piñerta on Tuesday expressed his conviction that the Church "made a big mistake, because one thing is that some of its members may have deviations, vices, and that they have committed atrocious crimes, violating and abusing children, but when the authorities superiors knew it did not act well, "he said.

"Instead of going to defend the victims, there was a corporate defense and in the end it ended up enlarging the crisis," he concluded and noted that "we must tell the truth and compensate the victims, it is very important that it be investigated and that discover the truth. "

According to data from the Prosecutor's Office, there are 166 cases open for abuse in the Chilean clergy, while the victims total 248, of which 131 were minors when they suffered the crimes.

Meanwhile, the people related to the Church who are investigated add up to 221, among them 10 bishops, 152 priests, 9 deacons, 15 lay people, 8 people with no information available and 27 belonging to orders or congregations without being clergy.

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