VATICAN CITY – All of Chile’s ordained Roman Catholic bishops offered their resignations to the pope on Friday after acknowledging there had been a lamentable cover-up of sexual abuse cases in the South American nation.
All told, 31 working bishops as well as one who is in retirement, made their decision public at a press conference after having met with Pope Francis at an emergency summit in the Vatican.
“We have put our jobs in the hands of the Holy Father so that he may freely decide what to do with each and every one of us,” said Juan Ignacio González Errázuriz, Bishop of San Bernando, who appeared before the press alongside the secretary general of Chile’s Episcopal Conference, Bishop Fernando Ramos Pérez.
The pope had on Thursday said in a statement that what he referred to as grave events in Chile had damaged and weakened the work of the church in the Andean nation in recent years.
The pontiff had assembled the entire bishops’ conference in the Vatican after acknowledging he had been responsible for making “grave errors in judgment” regarding the case of Bishop Juan Barros, who has been accused of ignoring victims of a Chilean priest, Fernando Karadima, despite being aware of the abuse he allegedly perpetrated.
“In the light of these painful events regarding abuses – of minors, of power and of conscience – we have examined the seriousness of these events and the tragic consequences they have had, particularly for the victims,” Francis said in his statement.
He offered the victims “a heartfelt plea for forgiveness” and committed himself to “repairing the damages caused.”
Sex abuse victims have for years complained that their claims had been ignored or rebutted.
Francis attracted scorn from victims for appointing Barros bishop of Osorno, in 2015.