All Catholic bishops in Chile resign over sex scandal

Santiago: In an unprecedented move in the modern history of the Catholic church every bishop in Chile has offered his resignation to Pope Francis, in a case involving sex abuse scandal, media reported. Thirty one active bishops and three retired bishops on Friday announced their resignation after a three-day emergency summit at the Vatican to discuss Chile’s sex abuse scandal.

The simultaneous resignation of all the bishops in a single country is thought to be unprecedented, CNN reported. The resignations came as the bishops said they placed the issue “in the hands of the Holy Father so that he might freely decide for each one of us”. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said he had no comment on whether Pope Francis would accept the mass resignation.

In response to the resignation of the country’s bishops on Friday, Marie Collins, a former member of the Pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors, said that the gesture was not enough. “No bishop removed — all allowed to resign. Really nothing changes,” Collins wrote on Twitter.

Pope Francis called the country’s bishops to Rome after he received a 2,300-page report detailing sexual abuses by priests in Chile. At the centre of the scandal is the Bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros, whom Francis appointed in 2015 amid an outcry that Barros had known about and covered up abuses. The Pope stridently defended Bishop Barros, calling accusations against him “calumny”.

In an about-face in April, after receiving the Vatican investigator’s report, the Pope said he had made “grave errors in judgment”, and apologised to Chile’s sex abuse victims. In May, the Pope met privately at the Vatican with three of Barros’ main accusers and asked their forgiveness.