Know to prevent. That is the spirit of the study Relational dynamics of sexual abuse in the ecclesial context in Chile, requested by the National Prevention Council of the Episcopal Conference in Chile and developed by an interdisciplinary team under the auspices of the UC Center for Law and Religion, which culminated on November 17 with the presentation of the book Sexual abuse in ecclesial contexts: Analysis in Chile, learnings and challenges, in the Hall of Honor of the UC Central House Campus.
The text, of more than 180 pages, seeks understand the type of bond that has led to sexual abuse in ecclesial contexts committed mainly by clerics at the national level and that include diverse pastoral areas such as the relationships and dynamics that exist in parishes, schools, homes, religious movements and congregations, among others.
The launching ceremony was presided over by the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Santiago, Celestino Aós; the rector Ignacio Sánchez; the dean of the Faculty of Law, Gabriel Bocksang; Monsignor Juan Ignacio González, bishop of San Bernardo – member of the Permanent Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile (CECh) and most senior bishop of the National Prevention Council of the Episcopal Conference of Chile -; and the director of the UC Law and Religion Center, professor María Elena Pimstein.
The text, of more than 180 pages, seeks to understand the type of link that has led to sexual abuse in ecclesial contexts committed mainly by clerics at the national level.
Cardinal Aós began his speech by thanking the investigation team and assuring that there is still much to know to reach comprehensive reparations. “We must welcome, accompany and help the victims, we must help those who committed crimes heal and reintegrate. Everyone and everywhere, we must strive to ensure that events and abuses like these are never repeated again.. From the Gospel we are called and obliged to establish respectful, fraternal, collaborative relationships, so that we grow and flourish in the possibilities we have, and bear fruit of goodness, truth and justice,” he noted.
“We must welcome, accompany and help the victims, we must help those who committed crimes heal and reintegrate. “Everyone and everywhere, we must strive so that events and abuses like these are never repeated” – Celestino Aós, Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Santiago.
Next, the dean of the Faculty of Law, Gabriel Bocksang, took the floor, thanking the National Prevention Council of the Episcopal Conference of Chile for “having entrusted this delicate task to us, to the bishops of our country, to the religious communities, and in a very special way, to the victims and therapists who helped us in this study. We trust that this book can provide a fruitful service to what the Catholic University is called.”
For his part, the bishop of San Bernardo, Monsignor Juan Ignacio González, highlighted the need to address the issue, stating that “the Church in Chile is fully aware of the seriousness of sexual abuse in the Church, and what this book does is give us tools to know the causes and contexts of the occurrence of sexual abuse in an ecclesial context. It will be essential for us in the task of continuing prevention and knowing the paths to repair.”
Finally, Professor Pimstein, together with the authors of the study –Ana María Celis, Josefina Martínez, Claudia Capella, Paulina Eyzaguirre, Constanza Garrido and Camila Gómez –, presented the main results obtained, emphasizing that the objective of the study, which is translated into this book, was to analyze the styles and relational dynamics that originate and shape sexual abuse committed by Catholic clerics and non-clerics in Chile in order to contribute to the generation of prevention and reparation models in pastoral and educational settings.
This was followed by comments on the book. The first analysis was carried out by the bishop of Chillán, general secretary of the Permanent Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile (CECh), Sergio Pérez de Arce, who referred to practical aspects on how to continue from now on, the need for transparency and accountability.
The bishop of Copiapó, member of the Permanent Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile (CECh) and member of the National Prevention Council of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, Ricardo Morales, It addressed more testimonial aspects, focusing on the support of victims/survivors.
Finally, the undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Linda Ghisoni, spoke about the new scenarios that open up from this researchemphasizing extending this analysis also to associations and movements, including crimes committed by laypeople.
The book Sexual abuse in ecclesial contexts: Analysis in Chile, learning and challenges, coordinated by the professor of the Faculty of Law, Ana María Celis, It is based on a study that has a quantitative and a qualitative part, both complementary.
The quantitative part seeks to dimension and characterize the situations where abusive relationships emerge from questionnaires completed with information from canonical records or state sentences from 1960 to 2023. For this, the legal sample of 568 victims/survivors and 225 aggressors was analyzed. .
The qualitative part, meanwhile, allows us to understand the process of building the abusive relationship, including the role of the psycho-religious component, as well as the spiritual impact that this has on the victim, based on interviews with survivors and professionals who have worked with survivors. . For this section, 22 semi-structured interviews were conducted with survivors. Added to their testimonies, based on their personal experiences, were the stories of 12 professionals, mostly psychotherapists, who had worked accompanying survivors of ecclesial sexual abuse both inside and outside the Chilean Catholic Church.
Thus, the The book is structured based on a chapter that seeks to show the panorama of current knowledge regarding the phenomenon of ecclesial sexual abuse based on various international and national studies.. Then two chapters are presented that show the main results of the study – the qualitative part and then the quantitative part.
Finally, a chapter is presented that seeks to be a conclusion and a discussion based on the results, placing special emphasis on the guidelines for prevention that arise from the study, in a contextualized way, as well as the main challenges for the future.
The coordinator of the text, Ana María Celis, declared at the end of the activity that “It is essential to have effective, accurate and detailed information on the aspects that influenced the abuses in our country to take the necessary strategies so that these actions and dynamics are not repeated. In this way, it is expected that its results and recommendations constitute valuable input for the future generation of prevention and reparation models in ecclesiastical contexts.”