Bishops 'to resign' over sex abuse crisis
In an unprecedented move, all of Chile's bishops offered to resign yesterday after attending a crisis meeting this week with Pope Francis about the cover-up of sexual abuse in the South American nation.
Several victims invited by the Pope to Rome earlier this month said they wanted all 34 bishops sacked and replaced by more moral candidates, and for the Vatican to extend punishment to others implicated in the scandal.
The offer of mass resignations yesterday by the bishops summoned to Rome marks the first time that all the senior Roman Catholic prelates of a country have taken such a step, a Vatican official said.
A Vatican official declined to speculate on the Pope's response.
"We have put our positions in the hands of the Holy Father and will leave it to him to decide freely for each of us," the bishops said in a joint statement read out by a spokesman for them, Bishop Fernando Ramos.
The announcement followed four days of discussions in the Vatican, where the Pope accused the bishops of "grave negligence" in investigating allegations that children had been abused and saying evidence of sex crimes had been destroyed.
Apologising to the victims, the Pope and to Chile for the failings of Chile's churchmen, Bishop Ramos said the bishops would all stay in their roles until the Pope had decided what to do.