EUROPE/ITALY - Archbishop makes documentary about the “Desaparecidos” of Concepción

Thursday, 25 January 2024

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The memory of the events surrounding the 1973 coup and an appeal to those who still have confidential information about the prisoners disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) are at the heart of the message sent by Fernando Chomali, Archbishop of Santiago since October 25, 2023, wants to convey through the documentary he directed.
The Archbishop wants to tell the story of the group of relatives of the missing Concepción hostages, which began in 1978 after a hunger strike that year. "I want to tell certain stories, of certain people that I have met and whom I admire very much," said Archbishop Chomalì, who was Archbishop of Concepción until October 2023.
“They are testimonies that tell us about the barbarism into which man can fall, but also about the greatness of the spirit of those who tirelessly search for what they believe to be right and true. We must be clear, and I hope this documentary expresses well, that there is no place for violence, no matter where it comes from, be it physical, psychological or verbal. This documentary aims to reflect the immeasurable dignity that every human being has, a dignity that has been violated and trampled on for political reasons, which we cannot accept."

I think that this documentary is an important contribution for Chile and especially for the young people," the Archbishop continues, "because despite the great suffering that these people have experienced, they have a great reason to live, to seek what is right, true and honest, to know where their relatives are, who have been imprisoned and disappeared." "The great work we have done together with the whole group," explains Chomalì, "can also help us today and see how everyone, with their own gestures, their own words, creates an environment of confrontation that harms everyone. Dialogue is the tool with which people understand each other: we can absolutely disagree on the political and economic model to follow, but we must recognize that we are always dealing with a person who deserves respect."

In his pastoral work, Archbishop Chomali uses various artistic media and expressions such as theater, painting, photography, literature and audiovisual media, about which he said: "I am convinced that art is one of the most sublime forms of human expression," he emphasizes, " All the artistic expressions I have used during this time aim to proclaim the miracle that is human beings and to show that beauty is a valuable path to what is true and right."

"From the beginning, the group met on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. to work on the creation of the documentary, hence the name of the documentary. Originally, these meetings took place in the Human Rights Pastoral building. Currently they take place in a hall of the Archdiocese of Concepción. "Through the stories of three family members, Ester Araneda, Hilda Espinoza and Elizabeth Velásquez, we learn their personal and collective stories of loss and pain, but also of the search for justice," the statement said.

The documentary also includes contributions from Alejandro Goic, auxiliary bishop of Concepción between 1979 and 1991, as well as Martita Wörner, managing director of the Pastoral Care of Human Rights from 1977 to 1990, and Patricia Parra, human rights lawyer. These testimonies are complemented by the tragic family history of the current MP María Candelaria Acevedo, whose father Sebastián Acevedo presented himself in 1983 out of desperation and fear of the possible execution of two of his sons, who had been imprisoned and kidnapped by the CNI, the authoritarian regime's secret service took his life in the Cathedral of Concepción.

The documentary, which premiered on September 1, 2023 in the Aula Magna of the Archdiocese of Concepción, is under the auspices of the Commission for Human Rights Pastoral of the Archdiocese of Concepción and will be shown today, January 25, 2024, at the “San Luigi dei Francesi” Cultural Center in Rome. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 25/1/2024)