Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fr. Felipe Berríos: Back in Chile

Reflexión y Liberación (English translation by Rebel Girl)
June 25, 2014

The return to Chile of Fr. Felipe Berríos, who belongs to the Society of Jesus, didn't go unnoticed since last night in his participation in the TVN program "El Informante" ("The Informer"), he openly and freely addressed delicate issues  for the Catholic Church and the community such as the "option for the poor", educational reform, the marked "classism" that characterizes Chilean society, homosexual unions, the Mapuche conflict, and the possible legalization of abortion...

The well-known Jesuit priest Felipe Berríos, who returned a few days ago to the country after spending several years working with refugees in Burundi and the Congo (Africa), was interviewed by reporter Juan Manuel Astorga on the program "El Informante", unleashing a wave of comments because of his answers to possible issues that have been little addressed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The priest was open to discussing various subjects while "respecting others' opinions", as he explained in the interview. We will offer a selection of the most applauded and commented phrases after his appearance on the TVN program:

The Catholic Church:

"Most people say they believe in Jesus Christ but, deep down, they believe in the God of consumerism, but it creates a huge void."

"We have shown the young people a God who's so cold, so insipid, that it's made the kids dispense with God, that it's not an issue for them, but when a kid is seeking equality for all, that's seeking God."

"The Church has profited from believing itself the owner of salvation and profiting from that."

Marriage Equality:

"What's the problem with homosexual marriage? Homosexuals are children of God. He created them homosexuals and lesbians, and God is proud of what they are."

"Why can't they get married? Enough already. The problem is in us, that we don't understand. Not in them."

"I want to say it clearly: Homosexuals and lesbians are children of God and they are called to holiness as we all are. They aren't second class citizens, nor are they in sin. It's a different nature and they help us change our concept of sexuality."

Educational reform:

"What draws my attention about educational reform is that an issue that to me is central isn't addressed: classism. As long as there's classism in Chile, anything else that's done will come out badly."

"I'm asking the Catholic Church, which has 7% of the elite schools, to make an effort. To the teachers and students of those schools. Demand it. Let's make an effort. Because if this reform doesn't take off in these schools, it will fail. If these schools don't open their doors to mix with the rest of society, this is going to fail."

"What has to change is that these paid private schools stop discriminating against students. How is it possible that in this country there are some Catholic and private schools that charge the parents tuition? What for? To discriminate economically."

The "Cota mil":

"It's legal for the University of the Andes to build a hospital in the 'cota mil' [an exclusive area of Santiago]. It's legal for Catholic University to build a hospital in San Carlos de Apoquindo. But it's immoral. How can it be moral that two hospitals are being built while there are other clinics in the upper class area of the capital and fewer hospitals on the periphery?"

"Building a hospital where there are already first class clinics, as Catholic University and University of the Andes did, kills just like abortion, because there are people on the periphery of the city, not to speak of the outlying areas, who don't have access to hospitals."

Legalization of abortion:

"The bottom line is that we realize that what's at stake here is defining when a human being is considered a person. If the majority in Parliament debates and agrees on an abortion law in the future, I'm going to accept it, but for me it would be immoral, as I see it. But I can't impose that way of thinking."

"The President said something very interesting -- that Chilean society is sufficiently mature to talk about these issues and not have someone decide for it. That seems viable to me."

The Mapuche conflict:

"Thank God you have a mayor like Huenchumilla."

"Chile stole the land from the Mapuche people..."

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