VATICAN CITY – Following three days of an emergency summit meetings at the Vatican every one of Chile’s 34 bishops offered their resignations to Pope Francis. The resignations were accompanied by an apology to the people of Chile for the sex abuse scandal that has impacted the entire country.
Pope Francis called the meeting in Rome to share his conclusions and reflections on a 2,300 page report put together by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Father Jordi Bertomeu. The report was compiled during their visit to Chile to investigate the sex abuse scandal.
The statement of resignation was read out loud to the gathered press by Bishop Juan Ignacio González. It began by thanking Pope Francis for his “paternal listening and fraternal correction”. Bishop González is part of Chile’s national commission for the protection of minors.
The resignation letter was then translated to Italian by Bishop Fernando Ramos, who is the auxiliary bishop of Santiago. He’s also the secretary of the Chilean bishops’ conference.
In the letter, the bishops of Chile thanked the victims of the sex abuse scandal for their incredible “perseverance and courage, despite the enormous personal, spiritual, social and familial difficulties they have had to face, many times in the midst of incomprehension and attacks from their own ecclesial community.” The bishops also petitioned the victims for their help as Chile continues to recover.
“The pope’s text clearly showed a series of absolutely reprehensible acts that have occurred in the Chilean church in relation to those unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse that have resulted in the lessening of the prophetic vigor that characterized her,” Bishop Ramos told the press.
When asked about the Pope’s assessment of the situation in Chile, Bishop Ramos said that the resignation paved the way for the bishops “to be in greater harmony with the will of the Holy Father.”
Of the 34 bishops to resign, two are already retired. It’s not clear yet whether Pope Francis will accept all of the resignations.