Chilean bishops advocate reconciliation 40 years after coup

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In a statement marking the 40th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973, the bishops of Chile called for peace and reconciliation in the country. 

“As pastors of the Church, we wish to remember this date by focusing on the dignity of the human person,” said Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, who leads the Bishops’ Conference of Chile.

In their statement, the Chilean bishops said that the wounds left by “that painful moment in Chilean history” have “still yet to be healed.”

Truth, justice and reconciliation are the way to a true peace, and “more than ever, we still believe in this path, despite the difficulties that oppose it,” they said.

Likewise, as the country debates the roles played by various parties before and after the coup, the bishops observed that “unfortunately it seems that the recriminations and accusations are louder than the necessary self-criticism and gestures of encounter that the country appreciates and values.”

“Reconciliation cannot be imposed by decree but instead must spring from a merciful heart,” they said. “It is our conviction that small personal and institutional gestures can be vital in helping to heal wounds and contribute to a true reconciliation.”

The bishops also underscored the key role played by the Catholic Church in the defense of human rights during the military regime. 

“Nothing justifies the outrages against the dignity of persons that began taking place on September 11, 1973,” they said.

Echoing the words of Pope Francis, the bishops remarked, “It is not the culture of confrontation, the culture of conflict, that builds peaceful coexistence in nations and between nations, but rather the culture of encounter, the culture of dialogue. This is the only path to peace

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