Print Version    Email to Friend
Spanish and Latin American bishops rebuke pope’s attackers

WASHINGTON (CNS): Bishops from Spain, Argentina and Peru s issued letters supporting Pope Francis in late August following fallout from allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former apostolic nuncio to the United States claiming that the pope and others knew about abuse allegations involving Archbishop Theodore McCarrick (Sunday Examiner, September 2).
An introduction to the letter posted on August 30 on the Argentine Bishops’ Conference news website, AICA, said it was a response to “ruthless” attacks against the pontiff.
“We share your pains and hopes,” the body of the letter said, explaining that it was written to express “fraternal and filial” closeness to the pope.
The Spanish Bishops’ Conference also issued a statement of its own on August 23 and posted part of a letter it said was sent to the pope on its website, saying, “Holy Father, you are not alone.”
The sent by Ricardo Cardinal Blazquez of Valladolid, president of the bishops’ conference, the letter said, “We ask the Lord to continue supporting you in the daily struggles.” 
Cardinal Blazquez said part of announcing the gospel also means denouncing with courage of what God disapproves. He said it was important to ask with humility for forgiveness of sins by members of the Church, including clergy and the laity.
Peru’s bishops, in a letter dated August 29, said that “in the face of attempts to destabilise the Church,” they expressed support for the courageous and firm manner the pope has shown in navigating “Christ’s boat,” meaning the Church.
Jesus supports the rock on which he built his Church, the letter said. “We are sure that the Risen Christ ... the Church will continue to propel us forward so that without fear and full of hope, we will continue to work with greater energy at the service of the people of God,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Latin American bishops’ council, CELAM, pledged its loyalty to Pope Francis and spoke against the “shameful” way he has been attacked, said Ruben Cardinal Salazar of Bogota, Colombia, the president of the council during an August 26 Mass in Medellin, Colombia.
The group was commemorating the 50th anniversary of a regional meeting of bishops that took place in Medellin in 1968 and drew the Catholic Church in the region closer to the poor of Latin America and to work toward dismantling poverty and its ailments.
AICA, reported that Cardinal Salazar said that just as the movement, which focused on the poor and sprang out of Medellin in the late 1960s had once been attacked, now the attacks are focused on those who embraced it, such as Pope Francis.
“If at that time they attacked the institution, today they attack the person,” Cardinal Salazar said, according to AICA.
The news agency said the comments made during the closing Mass also were later supported in a statement by the humanitarian agency Caritas Latin America, the Archdiocese of Medellin, and the Confederation of Religious in Latin America, known as CLAR. All four groups sponsored the congress marking 50 years since the Second General Assembly of the Bishops’ Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean in Medellin.
The pope’s ministry has been attacked, as well as the pope as a person, “we could almost say in a shameful way,” said Cardinal Salazar.
When Latin American bishops approved documents expressing their concerns on religious, socioeconomic and political conditions in Latin America and how they were detrimental to the poor back in the 1960s, many, including in the church, attacked them as being political and leftist. But they have maintained over the years that they follow a gospel that teaches the church to care for the poor because that is what Jesus taught.

More from this section