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Bishops oppose 'absurd' amnesty law for El Salvador

San Salvador, El Salvador, Mar 19, 2019 / 04:15 pm (CNA).- A proposal to grant amnesty to those convicted of war crimes committed during the El Salvadoran civil war has drawn friece criticizm from the country’s Catholic bishops.

 

"It would be a spurious law,” said the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador, which represents the bishops of the country’s eight Catholic dioceses, in a statement released March 17.

 

The bishops compared the proposal to the 1993 Amnesty Law, brought in following a United Nations investigation into human rights abuses during the El Salvadoran Civil War.

 

That measure was declared unconstitutional by the country’s Supreme Court in 2016, which ordered the Salvadoran congress to draft a new version of the law by July of 2019.

 

According to the bishops, the new bill would be a “totally unfair law” that would protect criminals instead of their victims.

 

Instead, the bishops called for “a law of true reconciliation,” that would promote a “transitional justice exercise that protects and provides reparation to victims.”

 

Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador said that the new law “does not make sense,” and is worse than the 1993 version.

 

“It is absurd to issue an amnesty law that seeks to cover all crimes, including crimes against humanity,” said Alas.

 

The 1993 Amnesty Bill notably would have prevented charges being brought against those who orchestrated the assassination of St. Oscar Romero.

 

Romero, who was the Archbishop of San Salvador, was murdered while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980. The day before his murder, he had preached a homily that implored the country’s soldiers to stop committing human rights atrocities.

 

It is believed that he was killed by Salvadoran National Police Detective Óscar Pérez Linares, and that his assassination was ordered by Roberto D'Aubuisson, a politician and death-squad leader. Álvaro Rafael Saravia, who was chief of security for D’Aubuisson and involved in the death squads, was found to be liable for Romero’s death, but has not yet been prosecuted.

 

After the 1993 law was repealed, a warrant was issued for Saravia, and the case was re-opened.

 

Saravia remains in hiding. Linares and D’Aubuisson are now both deceased.

 

During El Salvador’s 12-year civil war, an estimated 75,000 people were killed, and a further 10,000 people vanished. The conflict ended in 1992, following the singing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords.

With Venezuela in turmoil, how one religious sister cares for the elderly

Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 13, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Mother Emilia Rivero runs the Providence Nursing Home Foundation in Caracas, Venezuela. Even in ordinary times, caring for lonely, poor, and often forgotten elderly Venezuelans is not easy. And in Venezuela, where political unrest has heightened shortages of food, medicine, and water, these are not ordinary times.

“This is our charism, our work, to serve them, care for them, make sure that they have their food, are dressed, have clean clothes, have water, which has been such a problem,” the sister told Sky News March 2.

The elderly suffer the crisis in Venezuela acutely, as in some cases their relatives have fled the country, and in other cases simply find themselves financially destitute.

Some experts have estimated that the majority of Venezuelans over 60 depend on charity to survive, with the Catholic Church at the forefront.

The Catholic charities supporting elderly Venezuelans are themselves struggling for resources, especially since electrical blackouts began March 7 in many parts of the country.

Mother Rivero told journalists that many of the appliances in her nursing home’s kitchen, for example, no longer work, and the home has had problems getting water, especially since the blackout began.

Sky News reported that the nursing home where Mother Rivero serves can ordinarily care for 100 residents, but, due to the crisis, can accommodate now only 40.

Speaking to Aporrea TV in December 2018, the nun also clarified rumors about the deaths of the elderly at the nursing home. “Some people out there have said that the elderly here are starving to death. Thanks to benefactors, they can get their three meals a day, and we also welcome visitors who encourage them and bring them snacks.


“We have here at the nursing home 40 people, we also take in for lunch another 15 people, and some other people come for supper,” she added.

“We don’t have aid from any governmental institution” nor “do we receive money because they withdrew all aid,” the nun lamented, explaining that the nursing home she runs is sustained by donations.

According to CNN en Español, Venezuela has suffered blackouts for several hours for each week. While the Maduro government says the blackouts are caused by a cyber attack from the United States, experts have blamed an overtaxed and outdated electrical grid.

For his part, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who also claims the presidency of Venezuela, said that 16 states in the country continue to be without electric power while six have partial service.

Guaidó indicated the private sector has lost at least $400 million because the power outages affecting Venezuela.

According to some media, the lack of electricity has also left t24 dead in the country’s healthcare facilities.

The blackouts have also resulted in a failed clean water supply in some parts of the country.

 

A version of this article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Saskatchewan government fights to fund non-Catholic students at Catholic schools

Regina, Canada, Mar 13, 2019 / 02:48 am (CNA).- The government of Saskatchewan in Canada is arguing that it should be allowed to pay for non-Catholic students to attend Catholic school, appealing a 2017 court decision that could force up to 10,000 students out of Catholic schools because they are not Catholic.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Donald Layh first handed down the ruling in April 2017, saying that any provincial government funding for “non-minority faiths” would violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the state’s duty of religious neutrality, and equality rights.

Saskatchewan is arguing that its current model, whereby students of all faiths at Catholic schools are given funding, is religiously neutral, and that demanding religious proof to determine funding would not be religiously neutral, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

Saskatchewan is one of three Canadian provinces that partially fund Catholic school systems with taxpayer money. If it stands, the ruling could affect 26 other faith-based schools besides the Catholic schools, including a school for Muslim students.

This particular debate over school funding began in 2003, when the public school closed in the Saskatchewan village of Theodore. The public school district planned to bus 42 students to the public school in a neighboring village, but a group of Catholics petitioned the Minister of Education to form a new Catholic school division. The division then bought the old public school building and renamed it St. Theodore Roman Catholic School, CBC reports.

A local public school division filed a legal complaint against the Catholic school division and the provincial government in 2005. The complaint charged that the funding was unconstitutional and wrongly put the Catholic school in the role of a public school. Funding of non-Catholic students at the Catholic school constituted discrimination against public schools, the complaint said.

The lawsuit alleged that the community created the Catholic school division not to serve Catholic students, but to prevent students from being bused to another town to go to school, according to the Canadian site Global News.

Saskatchewan was given until June 2018 to follow the judge’s ruling, but instead they appealed and continued to pay for non-Catholic students to attend the Catholic school, Global News reports.

The government has said that if they lose again, they plan to counteract the ruling using a notwithstanding clause, which can temporarily override certain portions of the Canadian charter for five years, according to Global News. A panel of five judges in the court of appeals will have six to eighteen months to issue a ruling.

Both sides are expected to argue their case before the Court of Appeals this week.

 

Chilean cardinal addresses case of sex abuse in Santiago cathedral

Santiago, Chile, Mar 11, 2019 / 07:34 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago on Thursday denied knowing and giving  money to the complainant in a rape case in the cathedral which took place in 2015.

The Archbishop of Santiago gave an interview to Informe Especial which was broadcast March 7.

In the interview, he discussed a rape complaint against Fr. Rigoberto Tito Rivera Muñoz, who was found guilty in August 2018 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the sexual abuse of adults.

Rivera sexually assaulted Daniel Rojas Alvarez, who was then about 40, in a room of the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral in 2015.

Rojas claims he told Cardinal Ezzati of the attack during a confession, and that the archbishop asked him to pray for the abuser, gave him 30,000 pesos ($45), and asked that he not asked him not to share what happened.

In the Informe Especial interview, Ezzati said: “I hear confessions in the cathedral, especially during the time of Holy Week, but I am not aware of having heard his confession, because I don't know him and still less am I aware of giving him a hug and telling him that a priest would give him some money in my name, that's not it, this is all very unfortunate, but that's not the case, I understand that he may feel what he feels, and I have complete esteem and all my affection for him, because of what he has suffered,” he said.

Asked if he ever had contact with Rojas, the cardinal said “no.”

Regarding the processing of the case, Ezzati explained that the complaint was received by the Pastoral Office for Complaints: “It came to the archdiocese a few days later and immediately the archbishop ordered a preliminary investigation.”

“Within a few hours and a few days later that the investigator, Fr. Walker, conducted a preliminary investigation, which he gave to me, I received a phone call in which I was told  that the Holy See had asked the nunciature to review [Rivera's] situation because of a complaint that had come to them. I don't know what complaint, so consequently I immediately sent all the documentation where appropriate.”

Regarding the time elapsed between the filing of the complaint and calling in the victim (to testify), Cardinal Ezzati pointed out that “in 2016 the investigation was already done. What also happened is that they were never able to get Daniel's address. Except toward the end, Daniel gave (us) his e-mail, and he was able to be able contacted there.”

Asked about his responsibility in the abuse scandals within the Church, the cardinal said that “without a doubt one of the tasks that has fallen on me, and very painful, very shameful, very humiliating, is to take in hand the cases that are being reported and have been reported.”

“What I can tell you with a lot of transparency and with a lot of peace, we certainly could have made some mistakes, we're not infallible, I'm not infallible, but that in all the cases that have been reported to the Archdiocese of Santiago, for which since 2011 I have been responsible, all, all the cases have been investigated, and all cases are investigated, and what people reported before then, and they are in the process of being resolved.”

Concerning the accusations for alleged cover-up of abuse in which at least ten priests are implicated, Cardinal Ezzati said that “the justice system has to determine that. I am very much at peace and  I am willing, and as I have always said, I am at the disposal of the justice system if they want to investigate and they have the complete freedom to do so.”  

Asked about a bill which seeks to take away his Chilean citizenship, Ezzati (a native of Italy) said it “that pains me immensely, foremost because I was granted citizenship by indult and the decree sets out the reasons.”

He said that “the authorities are certainly free to take the path they want” and “personally I think it's unjust, but I am going to continue to work as archbishop as long as the Holy See asks me to do so.”

“After (they do that), as a priest with no complaints about what I was able to contribute at this time in the history of Chile, whether as an educator or as a pastor, I am going to continue working because what I am interested in is not titles, but was I am interested in is people,” he concluded.

The Archdiocese of Santiago stated last week that it received a complaint of possible abuse of minors by Rivera in August 2011, but that during enquiries into the case “it was not possible to contact the complainant.”

The Pastoral Office for Complaints then received a complaint against Rivera from an adult in March 2015, which permitted the start of a preliminary investigation and the implementation of the precautionary measure of removing the priest from all pastoral responsibilities.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the request of the Santiago archdiocese, “gave new instructions to continue the preliminary investigation and to start an administrative penal process” in September 2016.

The preliminary investigation was closed in November 2016, leading to the administrative penal process which concluded with the Decree of Condemnation of Aug. 16, 2018.

The priest was declared “guilty of crimes against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue continued  over time and involving scandal, with adults, as is specified in Canon 1395§1 of the Code of Canon Law,” the archdiocese said.

Rivera was suspended from public ministry for ten years, “only being able to celebrate the Eucharist privately and with the company of a person over 50 years of age.”

He was also prohibited from “meeting with or maintaining contact with young people” and was required not to move anywhere.

Once the ten years are completed, if the priest does not comply with the measures, he risks “being suspended for a greater period of time.”

The archdiocese also noted that these four penalties were “among others.”

It concluded, saying that “besides the canonical sentence which was implemented  in September 2018, an exhaustive review was begun to clarify all the information that was made known publicly.”

Cardinal Ezzati has faced accusations that he was involved in covering up the crimes of other abusive priests, including Fernando Karadima and Oscar Munoz Toledo.

Catholic university to review Rosica work for plagiarism

Toronto, Canada, Mar 11, 2019 / 05:05 pm (CNA).- A Catholic university in Ontario, Canada, says it will review any published work by its former president and vice-chancellor, Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.

“In so far as Fr. Rosica has admitted that his published work has included unattributed material originally published by others, it is possible that what he published as President contained similar material. We will endeavour to determine if this is the case,” Richard Corneil, president of Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario, told the Windsor Star March 8.

Rosica served as president and vice-chancellor of the university from 2011-2015. In recent weeks, the priest has come under fire amid revelations of extensive plagiarism in his published articles, books, and speeches.

The priest, a long-serving English language press aide at the Vatican Press Office, and the CEO of Canada’s Salt+Light Television network, was reported by Life Site News Feb. 15 to have plagiarized sections of text in several lectures and op-eds from a variety of writers, among them priests, theologians, journalists, and at least two cardinals.

The priest apologized for plagiarism on Feb. 22, shortly after initial reports emerged.

“What I’ve done is wrong, and I am sorry about that. I don’t know how else to say it,” Rosica told the National Post.

“I realize I relied too much on compiled notes,” Rosica told the National Post, adding that his plagiarism was inadvertent and not malicious. He explained that “it could have been cut and paste,” apparently meaning that he had mistakenly included passages of text written by others in his texts without remembering to attribute them.

“I realize the seriousness of this and I regret this very much … I will be very vigilant in future,” he said.

Subsequent reports found widespread plagiarism in essays, speeches, and op-eds by Rosica, dating back more than a decade.

In late February, evidence emerged on Twitter that Rosica had also copied directly and without attribution the work of several theologians in a 1994 article he published in the theological journal “Worship.”

Liturgical Press, which publishes the journal, announced Feb. 26 "that the editors of Worship are retracting the [1994] article by Thomas M. Rosica because of plagiarism."

Liturgical Press subsequently retracted two additional articles published by the priest.

The 1994 article covers the same topic as Rosica’s 1990 licentiate thesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, leading some to raise questions about whether that text, through which the priest earned a pontifical degree in scripture, might also have been plagiarized.

Last week, the priest was discovered to have misrepresented his studies at the Ecole Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem. While he had claimed to have a degree from graduate school, its director told journalists that while Rosica had been enrolled there, he had not earned a degree of any kind.

On Feb. 24, Rosica resigned from the Collegium, or governing board, of the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, and the governing boards of St. John Fisher College in New York and the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

On Feb. 25, Rosica acknowledged to The Catholic Register that he had plagiarized. “We know that plagiarism is wrong, especially when it is practised deliberately. Please note that my actions were never deliberate. Nevertheless they were wrong,”

While the board of directors at the the Salt and Light Media Foundation has acknowledged that Rosica’s plagiarism was wrong, board chairman Tony Gagliano said in a March 7 statement that board members “unanimously pledge our support of the continued leadership of Fr. Rosica as Chief Executive Officer.”

“For the past 16 years, Fr. Thomas Rosica has worked consistently with young adults on many media platforms and in multiple languages to offer experiences of unity, prayer, celebration, reflection, education, dialogue, thought-provoking reporting and stories of faith and action. This work must continue,” the board statement said.

The Knights of Columbus, financial supporters of Salt+Light, have told reporters that they will review and reevaluate their relationship with the media network.

 

 

Catholic aid group to set up kidney dialysis clinic in Guadalajara

Guadalajara, Mexico, Mar 7, 2019 / 07:28 pm (CNA).- In response to the growing number of patients with kidney conditions in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Catholic charitable agency Caritas is implementing plans to set up a kidney dialysis clinic in the region.

Caritas of Guadalajara currently has the donated office for the clinic, but around $410,000 is still needed to remodel the facility and purchase dialysis machines.

To raise the necessary funds, Caritas will hold a gala event March 28.

Once set up, the kidney dialysis clinic is expected to serve 180 patients a week.

Fr.  Francisco de Asís, an adviser to Caritas of Guadalajara, called the clinic a “dream come true…especially for people needing the treatment who can’t afford this service, who will be able to find in Caritas the treatment they need.”

In 2018, Caritas of Guadalajara helped provide dialysis for 711 people with donations of about $36,000.

An estimated 900,000 people in Jalisco state suffer from kidney problems, Caritas says. Of these, some 6,000 have been diagnosed with chronic renal insufficiency.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Costa Rican police raid Church offices after priests accused of sex abuse

San José, Costa Rica, Mar 7, 2019 / 04:49 pm (CNA).- The offices of the Archdiocese of San José and the Costa Rican bishops' conference were raided by police Thursday as part of an investigation of two priests accused of sex abuse.

The Judiciary Investigation Department confiscated computers and files March 7 in search of information regarding Fathers Manuel Antonio Guevara Fonseca and Mauricio Viquez Lizano, and proof of potential cover-up by Archbishop José Rafael Quiros Quiros of San Jose, according to the AP.

Viquez, 54, has been dismissed from the clerical state, the San José archdiocese announced March 4. Nine canonical complaints of sexual abuse of altar boys had been filed against him. He had been teaching at a local university, but he fled Costa Rica Jan. 7, and prosecutors in the country have issued an international arrest warrant.

Guevara, 52, was arrested earlier this month for one allegation of sexual abuse against a minor. He has been released from prison, but has strict regulations to follow and is suspended from his work at Santo Domingo de Heredia parish.

The 52 year-old priest was only kept in prison for one night, but he must check in with civil authorities once a month, cannot change addresses, and has surrendered his passport. He is also forbidden from any form of contact with the victim.

The Costa Rican bishops' conference issued a statement a day after his arrest, seeking forgiveness for a lack of an appropriate response in other sex abuse cases, according to Q Costa Rica.

“We humbly acknowledge our mistakes and ask forgiveness for the faults that have been painfully committed by some members of our church,” the bishops said.

Santiago archdiocese comments on priest sentenced for sex abuse

Santiago, Chile, Mar 6, 2019 / 03:33 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Santiago commented Tuesday on the case of Father Tito Rigoberto Rivera Muñoz, who was found guilty in August 2018 of the sexual abuse of adults.

Rivera's victim claims that he told the Archbishop of Santiago of the attack, but the prelate gave him money and asked him not to report it.

The March 5 statement of the Santiago archdiocese's Truth and Peace Commission follows the appearance of the victim, Daniel Rojas Alvarez, on state television.

Rivera sexually assaulted Rojas, who was then about 40, in a room of the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral in 2015.

Rojas claims he told Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of the attack, who asked him to pray for the abuser, gave him 30,000 pesos ($45), and asked that he not asked him not to share what happened.

During proceedings initiated by the Chilean justice system, another victim reportedly presented photographs and videos that confirmed Rivera's abuse of other youths.

The Santiago archdiocese stated that it received a complaint of possible abuse of minors by Rivera in August 2011, but that during enquiries into the case “it was not possible to contact the complainant.”

The Pastoral Office for Complaints then received a complaint against Rivera from an adult in March 2015, which permitted the start of a preliminary investigation and the implementation of the precautionary measure of removing the priest from all pastoral responsibilities.

The preliminary investigation “was widened with new information that was provided to the Chilean Investigative Police, which included the possible theft of the religious objects.”

In August 2015, Cardinal Ezzati sent the information on the case to the apostolic nunciature.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the request of the Santiago archdiocese, “gave new instructions to continue the preliminary investigation and to start an administrative penal process” in September 2016.

The preliminary investigation was closed in November 2016, leading to the administrative penal process which concluded with the Decree of Condemnation of Aug. 16, 2018.

The priest was declared “guilty of crimes against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue continued  over time and involving scandal, with adults, as is specified in Canon 1395§1 of the Code of Canon Law,” the archdiocese said.

Rivera was suspended from public ministry for ten years, “only being able to celebrate the Eucharist privately and with the company of a person over 50 years of age.”

He was also prohibited from “meeting with or maintaining contact with young people” and was required not to move anywhere.

Once the ten years are completed, if the priest does not comply with the measures, he risks “being suspended for a greater period of time.”

The archdiocese also noted that these four penalties were “among others.”

It concluded, saying that “besides the canonical sentence which was implemented  in September 2018, an exhaustive review was begun to clarify all the information that was made known publicly.”

Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Perez, an Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago and secretary general of the Chilean bishops' conference, has called the Rivera's abuse “repugnant, unacceptable and terrible. The question we have to ask ourselves is how a priest came to that.

Cardinal Ezzati has faced accusations that he was involved in covering up the crimes of other abusive priests, including Fernando Karadima and Oscar Munoz Toledo.

 

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Nicaraguan bishops not mediating latest round of peace talks

Managua, Nicaragua, Mar 5, 2019 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- The Nicaraguan bishops said Monday they have not been invited to mediate in the renewed dialogue between the government of President Daniel Ortega and the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.

Anti-government protests in the country began in April 2018. They resulted in more than 300 deaths, and the country's bishops mediated on-again, off-again peace talks until they broke down in June.

A new round of dialogue began Feb. 27 at the INCAE Business School in Managua.

Attending the start of the talks as witnesses and as “a gesture of good will” were Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solorzano of Managua and the Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.

The bishops' conference stated March 4 that “in this historic moment our greatest contribution as pastors of this pilgrim Church in Nicaragua will continue to be to accompany the people in their suffering and sorrows, in their hopes and joys, and lifting up our prayers of intercession so that Nicaragua may find civilized and just ways for a peaceful solution in view of the common good.”

At the end of the Feb. 27 session of the peace talks, a statement was read which reported the approval of 9 out of 12 proposed points, without specifying what these were.

The talks continued Feb. 28 and March 1, with the agreement to continue meeting March 4-8. In addition, it was indicated that the goal is that “the negotiations conclude as soon as possible.”

Nicaragua's crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces initially.

Anti-government protestors have been attacked by “combined forces” made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and pro-government vigilantes.

The Nicaraguan government has suggested that protestors are killing their own supporters so as to destabilize Ortega's administration.

The Church in Nicaragua was quick to acknowledge the protestors' complaints.

The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega's authoritarian bent.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.

The Church has suggested that elections, which are not scheduled until 2021, be held in 2019, but Ortega has ruled this out.

Ortega was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

How the Church in Chile is helping women victims of domestic violence

Santiago, Chile, Mar 4, 2019 / 04:58 pm (CNA).- The Vicariate for Social Pastoral Care of Caritas in the Archdiocese of Santiago takes in every year hundreds of women and their children, victims of domestic violence who find in their shelters comprehensive care to be able to get on with their lives.  

According to figures from the Center for the Study and Analysis of Crime of the Undersecretariat for Crime Prevention, in 2018 there were 64,361 complaints in Chile related to domestic violence, and of these, 76 percent were against women.

That same year, Caritas' Social Pastoral Care took into its two shelters in Santiago 86 women and 115 children. Today, 30 percent of its residents are immigrants.

“The women come in as referrals from the Public Prosecutor's Office, Family Courts, and Sernameg (National Service for Women and Gender Equality), the Carbineros [national police] and the unified risk assessment guidelines,” said Loreto Rebolledo, head of Caritas' Solidarity Outreach, told the Archdiocese of Santiago's communications office.

Robelledo explained that that is a Sernameg program run by the Archdiocese of Santiago which consists in providing a quality temporary residence for women over 18, with or without children, who are experiencing violence from their partner, husband, or ex.

In the shelters the women are taught about  the risks and consequences of violence and strategies for self-care and for developing autonomy. The children are given psychological help and given tools for self-knowledge and awareness of their environment, as well as crisis intervention. They are also made to understand that they in no way deserved the violence they were subjected to and are taught how to incorporate strategies to protect themselves.

According to Rebolledo “one of the hardest things to work on and overcome is changing their understanding of affective relationships and the concept of the ideal family, since their learned interrelationships are characterized by following patterns of dependence, submission, and subordination, causing, in the majority of cases, the women to treat their sons and daughters with the same kind of violence they have experienced.”

Caritas' pastoral ministry endeavors to have people question the roots of violence and commit to building a “more just and equitable society.”

“It emphasizes the expression of a just, fraternal and solidary society where every man and woman has the right to a full and abundant life,” Rebolledo said.

The victims “need to understand why they were experiencing a violent situation and how they got there,” so their sense of guilt is lessened and they put an end to the mistreatment, she noted.

“Networks of family and friends play a key role. Active listening, empathy, support, not judgeing and information are fundamental. That they know and feel they are not alone,” the social worker pointed out.

One of the people who has benefited from from the homes is Sandra, 41, who for years was mistreated by her ex-partner and the father of her three children. In 2014, she asked for asylum with the pastoral ministry and after eight months was able to resume her life without violence.

“Drugs, alcohol and machismo had a played a big part. I put up with so much violence because he was the breadwinner. The episode that I remember the most and that triggered my leaving was once when I was cooking beans he didn't like them. He threw all the food in my face, then he knocked me up against the stove and began to shoot, in the air, because he had a pistol,” she related.

“They asked my daughter at school what gift that money cannot buy she would like to have. She replied: 'That my dad would never hit my mom again.' After that the school called me and I let it all come out. For the first time, I let go of my fear and I told everything I had gone through for five years and then I came to the shelter,” she recalled.

Sandra acknowledged that “it was hard at first, but they helped me here and especially my children. After the eight months that I was here at the home, I was afraid to leave and live elsewhere  with my children, but I got up the courage to do so and thanks be to God it went well for me. I managed to get a job as a waitress and was able to pay the rent.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.