Comments about Jews urge archbishop’s resignation

A new Chilean archbishop-elect has resigned after making contentious comments about Jews in a CNN interview last month. Pope Francis has accepted Fr Carlos Eugenio Irarrázaval Errazuriz’s resignation.

The Santiago diocese says Errazuriz’s resignation “was the fruit of dialogue and joint discernment”, in which Francis valued Errazuriz’s “spirit of faith and humility … in favor of the unity and good” of the Chilean pilgrim church.

The former archbishop-elect’s statements were made in the context of questions the CNN interviewer had asked him about the role of women in the Church.

“We all have to ensure that they can do what they may want to do. Obviously, Jesus Christ marked out for us certain guidelines, and if we want to be the Church of Jesus Christ, we have to be faithful to Jesus Christ,” he began.

“Jewish culture is a male dominated culture to this day.

“If you see a Jew walking down the street, the woman goes ten steps behind. But Jesus Christ breaks with that pattern. Jesus Christ converses with women, converses with the adulteress, with the Samaritan woman. Jesus Christ let women care for him.

“It is true that at the Last Supper there was no woman seated at the table, and we also have to respect that. Jesus Christ made choices and he didn’t do it ideologically.”

A week after the CNN interview, Errazuriz apologised to the Jewish community during a meeting held at the archdiocesan offices with Jewish representatives.

Also present at the meeting were Bishop Celestino Aós Braco, apostolic administrator of Santiago; Bishop Cristián Carlos Roncagliolo Pacheco, a Santiago auxiliary; Fr José Manuel Arenas; and the rabbis Alejandro Bloch, Samuel Szteinhendler and Daniel Zang.

Errazuriz also made a written apology for using “expressions which troubled and even pained many people.”

“I would like to sincerely ask forgiveness for the suffering and bewilderment that my statements may have caused,” he said.

His renunciation did not come as a total surprise given the controversy that erupted in Chile immediately after his nomination on 22 May.

On 23 May, in an press interview, he suggested the church needs to look to the future and put the crisis of the abuse of minors by clergy behind it, using a local expression that “stirring reheated rice is worthless”.

A statement from the Santiago archdiocese says Errazuriz will continue in his role as a parish priest.

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