The Latest: Chile bishops return home, vow to help reform
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on a sex abuse and cover-up scandal involving the Catholic Church in Chile (all times local):
Chilean bishops are arriving back home after their emergency summit with Pope Francis over a sex abuse and cover-up scandal, saying they are committed to helping the pope “clean up” the Chilean church.
Bishop Carlos Pellegrin, of Chillan, told reporters at Santiago’s airport Friday that in offering to resign en masse, the bishops didn’t want to suggest they were “abandoning ship” and leaving the pope alone to deal with their mess.
He said: “We are at his total disposition to clean up what we have to do, to ensure protocols that will help us care for victims better.”
He was the only bishop of a group of around ten arriving from Rome who spoke to reporters.
Victims of Chile’s most notorious predator priest are reacting with praise and hope after every Chilean bishop offered to resign over a sex abuse and cover-up scandal.
Jose Andres Murillo, who earlier this month spent hours discussing the scandal with Pope Francis at the Vatican earlier this month, called the bishops “delinquents” who deserve to go.
“For dignity, justice and truth, the bishops should leave” he tweeted. “They didn’t know how to protect the weakest, the exposed them to abuse and then impeded justice. For this, they only deserve to go.”
And in a tweet, Juan Carlos Cruz, the main whistleblower in the scandal, said the mass resignation was “unprecedented and good” and that this “will change things forever.”
The bishops announced the mass resignations Friday after an emergency summit meeting with Pope Francis.
All of Chile’s bishops have offered to resign over a sex abuse and cover-up scandal, in what is one of the biggest shake-ups ever in the Catholic Church’s long-running abuse saga.
At the end of an emergency summit with Pope Francis, 31 active bishops said they had signed a document offering to resign and that they were putting their fate in the hands of the pope.
The mass resignation marks the first time in history that an entire bishops conference had offered to step down en masse over a scandal.
It also lays bare the devastation that the case has caused to the Catholic Church in Chile and beyond.
Pope Francis has accused Chile’s bishops of destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring church lawyers to minimize accusations and of “grave negligence” in protecting children from pedophile priests.
In a devastating 10-page document delivered to Chilean bishops during a summit this week, Francis said the entire Chilean church hierarchy was collectively responsible for “grave defects” in handling abuse cases and the resulting loss of credibility that the Catholic Church has earned.
The document, reported by Chile’s T13 television and confirmed as authentic Friday by the Vatican, puts mounting pressure on the bishops as a whole to resign given Francis told them that “no one can exempt himself and place the problem on the shoulders of the others.”
The bishops are due to hold a news conference in Rome later Friday.