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from issue no. 09 - 2003

Who is Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa

A peacemaker in Chile in the period after Pinochet

by Gianni Cardinale

Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop of Santiago in Chile and newly elected President of the CELAM

Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop of Santiago in Chile and newly elected President of the CELAM

Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, born in Santiago in Chile on 5 September 1933, as a young student was a keen athlete, his specialty being the hundred meters, particularly the 4x100 relay. He did his universities studies in Chile, where he took a diploma in math, and in Freiburg, in Switzerland, where he finished his studies in theology in 1962. The previous year he was ordained priest for the Pallotti community. In the October of 1962, however, after decisive meetings with the founder Father José Kentenich, he entered the institute of the Schönstatt Fathers. In 1965 he was appointed their Regional Superior for Chile and held the post up to 1971. From Chile he directed the secular communities of his Institute in the Iberian peninsula and in Ecuador. As Regional Superior, besides, he took part in the workings of the Conference of the Religious of Chile, which elected him Vice-president.
In those years he worked in close contact with the then cardinal of Santiago, the unforgotten Salesian Raúl Silva Henríquez, with whom he formed a fruitful friendship.
In 1971 he was called to Germany as member of the General Council of his community and three years later was elected General Superior of his Institute and given the post of President of the International Council of the Schönstatt Charity. In 1980 he was re-elected General Superior and continued to perform both functions up to December 1990, when he was appointed archbishop and Secretary of the Congregation for Religious.
On 24 September 1996, he was appointed Bishop of Valparaiso, the second diocese in Chile in terms of the number of faithful. Two years later he was promoted Archbishop of Santiago. Still in 1998 he was elected President of the Chilean Episcopal Conference, a post he still holds.
First as Archbishop of Santiago, then also as President of the episcopate, he performed a central role in the peacemaking activity of the Church in the difficult course of reconciliation in Chile in the post-Pinochet period. Work that in the 2000 Holy Year culminated in the “Purification of the memory” ceremony in which the bishops of Chile asked forgiveness for the sins of the Catholic Church in their country.
He was created cardinal at the 21 February 2001 consistory. On 16 May last he was elected President of the Latin-American Episcopal Conference (CELAM), of which he was first Vice-president from 1999.
In the Roman Curia he is a member of the Congregation for the Religious; of the Pontifical Council for the family; of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Gia. Ca.

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