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All of Chile’s Catholic Bishops Offer to Quit Over Sex Abuse Scandal

In a document the Vatican prepared for this week’s meeting, the pope took direct aim at Chilean church leaders, whom he accused of “grave negligence” in protecting “vulnerable children.”

The document was made public on Thursday by Canal 13 television in Chile, and was confirmed as authentic by the Vatican on Friday. It cited liberally from the report by the two investigators, the Rev. Charles J. Scicluna and the Rev. Jordi Bertomeu.

In the document, Francis said the bishops had failed to investigate claims of sexual abuse even when there was clear evidence crimes had been committed. He accused the bishops of moving priests accused of misconduct from diocese to diocese, even into positions “that imply daily and direct contact with minors.”

In one note, Francis accused the bishops of allowing “compromising documents” to be destroyed, and of “demonstrating an absolute lack of respect for the canonical procedure.” The pope said he was “perplexed and ashamed.”

The situation was so serious, Francis said, that removing people from their positions would not be enough. “It would be a serious omission on our part not to delve into the roots” of what had happened in Chile, he said, and discover “the dynamics that made it possible for such attitudes and evils to occur.”

In their statement on Friday, the bishops noted the victims’ “perseverance and their courage, despite the personal, spiritual, social and familial difficulties they had to face, often accompanied by incomprehension and the attacks of the ecclesiastical community.” The Rev. Juan Ignacio González, the bishop of San Bernardo, read the statement, signed by all the bishops, at a news conference in Rome.

Neither he nor Bishop Ramos answered questions from reporters.

“This really makes history, with a whole hierarchy remitting their resignation to the pope,” said Gerard O’Connell, a journalist who has long covered the Vatican. “It clearly shows that they have understood the determination of the pope to deal in a decisive and clear way with abuse, not just sexual but also of power and conscience.”

Source: NYT > World

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