CHILE, Francisco Javier Troncoso •
Chile, recent news: CORFO (state owned company) is about to recover “the vase.” CORFO, the Chilean Economic Development Agency, where I used to work and where Mario Hiriart also worked in the 1940s, was the victim of a 85 million dollar scam in 2003. The theft was made possible because of a flaw in their management systems, which their control department had warned them about. Chilean President Ricardo Lagos tried to downplay the incident, saying: “they took a jar, we’ll recover the jar and case closed”. —
Now the state agency has nearly regained all the economic losses it incurred.
But that does not mean that the scandal was any less significant or painful.
CORFO was seen as a world class agency, monthly receiving international delegations interested in its work, and its impact in the country was growing. It had decided to become the first Chilean state entity to receive ISO 9001 cerfication.
The only way for it to emerge from these errors, failures, scandals, crimes was to:
- Tell the truth
- Promise to prevent it from happening again in practical and concrete ways
- Try to repair the damage
- The members of the organization assumed collective guilt even though they did not have any responsibility.
- In these cases, it is implicit that the authors will be harshly punished, those responsible for supervising them lose their jobs and introduce measures, processes, and changes to ensure that these incidents never occur again.
What were the consequences?
- CORFO itself announced the scam. It did not wait to be exposed.
- The CORFO CEO (Executive Vice President) apologized and resigned together with the thief’s manager. Both made themselves available to the authorities and the media.
- The thief, who operated a network of scammers, was arrested and lost all his assets.
- The institution created an audit division to monitor operations.
- New infractions, including minors, in the use of funds are the subject to criminal proceedings.
- The initiative to receive ISO 9001 certification was abandoned.
- The employees suffered a blow to morale and their enormous prestige.
- The trust that allowed processes to be fastracked to meet deadlines gave way to greater control measures and extended deadlines.
Germany also experienced this after World War II and changed its behaviour seriously. Today it enjoys the confidence of its neighbors, it has political weight, and is a welcome ally for all. Japan never underwent a complete change, it does not teach the history of its horrors and continues to honour war criminals, and therefore continues to arouse enmity and distrust 73 years after the war.
What happened in Schoenstatt with the abuse scandals?
I ask myself how we have handled the scandals we have experienced in Schoenstatt.
Serious crimes occured that are visible to the whole movement. I’m referring in particular to the case of the priest and bishop, Mons. Francisco José Cox, affectionally known as “Padre Papán” (Fr. Daddy). I have a deep affection for him, he helped me in my life and always showed me appropriate affection.
When I was warned about his scandalous behaviour with children, I could not believe it. It was unbelievable.
The matter ended up coming into the public light. Bishop Francisco J Errázuriz announced that Fr. Papan had retired from pastoral activity and had been confined to a monastery in Germany to live a life of prayer and penance for “improper activities”.
But this reaction brought many problems, some of them still exist:
- It is not exactly true that Fr. Francisco José went to a monastery. Wasn’t he at the main house of the Schoenstatt Fathers? This is something very different and implicates the Fathers in a lie.
Did they lie to us, members of the Movement and the general public? This is clearly very painful and puts our trust into doubt. I do not know if this lie has been clarified.
- The Movement never reported Monsignor Cox to the civil criminal authorities, even after he left the country, despite knowing the seriousness of his crimes.
- His actions were neither made public nor condemned and forgiveness for them was never asked. It seemed as if nothing bad had happened in public for which it was neccesary to ask for forgiveness.
- The Movement and/or the Fathers do not appear to have contacted the victims to listen to them, ask for forgiveness, bring reparation to the degree possible. The first reparation is always the truth and the recognition of the victims for what they suffered.
- Up until now, I don’t know whether in the Movement or the Institutes mechanisms have been put in place to protect possible victims from sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience and power.
I hope that this situation is only due to my lack of information. I hope so!
On the other hand, I see partial apologies, admissions of shame for specific actions, but I do not know of any plea for forgiveness for everything that happened.
More over I see requests for prayer, a capital of grace, of Atonement… all good and well, but that is accompaniement. The most important action is missing!
How can we atone for a sin that we did not commint and that we did not ask for forgiveness? How can we ask for forgiveness for a crime that we have no intention of preventing from happening again? How can we ask for forgiveness for a crime and a sin without trying to fix its consequences?
How long will we remain in this vagueness?
It is better to make things black or white once and for all than to live forever in shades of grey.
Original: Spanish, 16 December. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa