Chilean bishops implore forgiveness for sex abuse scandal and offer to resign
By Linda Bordoni
Following three days of meetings with Pope Francis in the Vatican, the bishops of Chile met the press and read a statement in which they thanked the Pope for having listened to them "paternally and for having offered his fraternal correction” during these days "of reflection and prayer".
Resignations in Pope's hands
Speaking briefly to the press after having read their statement, the bishops explained that they have put their positions “in the hands of the Holy Father and will leave it to him to decide freely” for each of them.
They also referred to a document handed to them personally by the Pope in which are indicated a series of “absolutely reprehensible things that have happened in the Chilean Church in relation to unacceptable abuses of power, conscience and of sexual [nature], and which have led to diminishing of the prophetic vigor that characterized the Church.”
Appeal for forgiveness
Above all, the bishops said, they ask forgiveness for the pain caused to the victims of clerical sex abuse, to the Pope, to the people of God and to their country for their grave mistakes and omissions.
They also expressed gratitude to Archbishop Charles Scicluna and to Fr Jordi Bertomeu, the prelates charged by the Pope to investigate and to draw up the 2,300 page report into the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Chilean Church, “for their pastoral and personal dedication, and for their effort of the past weeks to try and bring healing to the wounds of society and of the Church in their country.
“We thank the victims, the bishops continued , for their perseverance and for their courage in the face of all the grave personal, spiritual, social and family difficulties they have had to face,” a burden, they specified, often aggravated by the incomprehension and attacks of the ecclesial community.
And imploring, yet again their forgiveness, the bishops asked for their help to be able to go forward on a path of healing.
A milestone in a process of deep change
Describing the past days of “honest dialogue” as a milestone in a process of deep change guided by Pope Francis, the bishops said that in communion with the Pope, they wish to re-establish justice and contribute to repair the damage caused, in order to give new impetus to the prophetic mission of the Church in Chile, where, they said, “Christ should always have been at the center.”
Vowing to commit themselves fully to this new path the bishops concluded their statement expressing their desire that “the face of the Lord may shine anew” in the Chilean Church and with “humility and hope” they appealed to all to help them in their endeavor.