SANTIAGO – The effort to decriminalize abortion, reform of the retirement pension system and the political confidence crisis were some of the issues marking the celebration of the Te Deum liturgy in Santiago as part of Chile’s Independence Day festivities.
During his homily at the Metropolitan Cathedral in the capital, Santiago Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati urged respect for the right to life “from conception until natural death.”
His remarks come a week after the Senate health committee approved the interruption of pregnancy if the mother’s life is deemed to be at risk, if the fetus is unable to survive or in the case of rape.
Ezzati also expressed his wish for “dignified pensions for retirees,” a sentiment dovetailing with that of huge numbers of Chileans who, for more than a month, have been protesting to demand an end to the private pension system.
Currently, 90.75 percent of Chilean retirees receive monthly pensions of less than 154,304 pesos ($233), about half the legal minimum salary in the South American country, according to a report published by the Sol Foundation.
“We long to improve the working world by increasing the number of quality jobs and achieving more ethical salaries. We aspire for our older adults to be able to live with greater dignity and for our children to be able to spread their wings to fly high in life,” said Ezzati during the religious thanksgiving ceremony that has been held in Chile every Sept. 18 since 1811 with the attendance of top political officials.
The prelate also confirmed that Chile is experiencing “an epoch marked by a severe critical spirit” where “public scrutiny is rigorous and the demands are greater every day.”
Nevertheless, he said that “this same intensity to identify the deficiencies, works such that ... we feel strongly dissatisfied.”
The archbishop also called for a “business policy free of corruption,” alluding to the crisis of confidence and legitimacy affecting the political and business class in recent years.
He added that “hope” is the most urgently needed commodity among the Chilean public, since “the way we orient ourselves toward the future, in some way, fashions our present” and noting that “we have reasons for hope because in critical situations our society has been able to look to the common good and achieve agreements that have brought so many benefits.”
Attending the ceremony was Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who at the conclusion of the Te Deum said that the Catholic Church “calls on everyone to look forward with hope.”
Chile is one of the few countries in the world that holds a Te Deum service as part of its Independence Day celebrations.