After the abuse scandal in chile, all the bishops of the south american country have offered their resignation. There has never been a comparable step by a bishops’ conference in the scandal of abuse in the catholic church.
"All the bishops present in rome place their ministries in the hands of the holy father so that he can freely decide about each one of us," the bishops’ conference said after a meeting of the 34 clergy with pope francis in rome.
"We would like to ask the pope, the people of god and the country for forgiveness for the pain of the victims and our grave mistakes and failures," the message read. The pope must now decide on the resignations. But it is unlikely that he will accept all of them, because then the entire chilean church would no longer have a bishop.
The pontiff had already indicated that resignations alone were not enough. "We do not solve the problems of the church community only by removing people," he wrote in a letter to the bishops. "We must do this, but it is not enough. We must go further."
At the center of the scandal is the chilean bishop juan barros, who is said to have covered up sexual offenses committed by the former pastor and priest trainer fernando karadima. In 2015, the pope had given the former military bishop the dioecese of osorno. There the clergyman meets with fierce opposition.
During his trip to chile in january, francis himself had triggered a scandal when he defended barros. Later he asked for forgiveness and admitted that he had misjudged the situation. The pope then commissioned maltese archbishop charles scicluna to investigate the case and hoarded abuse victims himself.
"We must examine the causes and mechanisms that in some cases have led to the cover-up and the grave neglect of the victims," a communication from the holy see after the meeting with the bishops’ conference in rome now read. "It is essential to restore confidence in the church by means of good priests who witness with their lives, accompany the victims in their suffering and work resolutely to prevent abuse"."
Francis repeatedly declares, in the case of abuse like his predecessor benedict XVI. To follow a "zero tolerance principle". The argentinean created a child protection commission in 2014, but it is also struggling with internal problems.
It is also criticized that within the church, even under francis, there is still resistance to the enlightenment. Francis himself is accused of being too lenient and not following up his words with deeds.