Following his return to his native Chile after years of missionary work in Burundi and the Congo, Fr. Felipe Berrios said that he favors homosexual marriage as well as the legalization of abortion. “I want to clearly state: Homosexuals and lesbians are children of God and are called to holiness like all of us. They are not second-class citizens nor are they in a state of sin. This is a distinct condition and they help us to broaden our concept of sexuality,” said the Jesuit priest.
Interviewed for Chilean television on June 24, Berrios said “What is the problem with homosexual marriage? Homosexuals are children of God. He created homosexuals and lesbians, and God is proud of them.” He added, “The problem lies within us, that we don’t understand this. Not in them.”
With respect to abortion, Berrios said that “the same respect I have for life as a gift from God makes me respect the opinions of others.” Explaining his departure from Catholic doctrine, Berrios said “My experience of God is that life is a gift He gave me, and that for me life is a sacred gift from God from the moment of conception until natural death.”
“At the bottom of this is that we are aware that what is at play is defining when a human being is to be considered a person. If the great majority in Parliament debates and then approves in the future an abortion law, I will accept it, even though according to my belief for me it is immoral. I cannot impose my way of thinking in that manner.” Regarding recents statements by Chilean leader Michelle Bachelet, Berrios said “The president said something very interesting: that Chilean society is sufficiently mature to have a conversation about issues and that no one should decide for it. That seems good to me.”
In 2009, Berrios came out in support of legislation to recognize non-marital unions: an idea that won support from Sebastian Piñera – who would become president of Chile. “What Sebastian Piñera has done is the very broadly held sense in Chilean society. I believe that we are increasingly becoming aware that defacto situations that should be regulated and that they need not be mixed up with marriage. According to a definition by Andrés Bello (ed. not: a 19th century Venezuelan humanist), it involves one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation. This is about regularizing homosexual unions according to civil law so that they can have rights to inheritance and other sorts of benefits that they do not have now; this in an injustice and a closing of eyes before a reality.”