All of Chile’s bishops resign

All of Chile’s bishops offer resignations after meeting pope on abuse

May 18, 2018

by Junno Arocho Esteves,


Every bishop in Chile offered his resignation to Pope Francis after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandal.

“We want to announce that all bishops present in Rome, in writing, have placed our positions in the Holy Father’s hands so that he may freely decide regarding each one of us,” Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo said May 18 in a statement on behalf of the country’s bishops.

The unprecedented decision was made on the final day of their meeting May 15-17 with Francis.

Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops’ conference, said the pope had read to the 34 bishops a document in which he “expressed his conclusions and reflections” on the 2,300-page report compiled by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and his aide, Fr. Jordi Bertomeu, during a visit to Chile to investigate the scandal.

“The pope’s text clearly showed a series of absolutely reprehensible acts that have occurred in the Chilean church in relation to those unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse that have resulted in the lessening of the prophetic vigor that characterized her,” Ramos said.

After reflecting on the pope’s assessment, he added, the bishops decided to hand in their resignations “to be in greater harmony with the will of the Holy Father.”

“In this way, we could make a collegial gesture in solidarity to assume responsibility — not without pain — for the serious acts that have occurred and so that the Holy Father can, freely, have us at his disposal,” Ramos said.

After news of the resignations broke Friday morning, Chilean abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz tweeted: “I’m very excited about all of this. It does good to our beloved country, to so many people who have suffered because of lying and corrupt bishops, and all the survivors in the world who have been ignored.”

“Now there’s no giving up. History [or the story] changed. Sincere thanks,” Cruz tweeted.

Cruz was one of three abuse survivors who met with Francis individually for several hours over the last weekend in April, and then again together April 30. Cruz, James Hamilton and José Andrés Murillo were each abused as minors by Fr. Fernando Karadima. They were invited to the Vatican by Francis after he admitted making “serious mistakes” in his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases in Chile.

Anne Barrett Doyle of the abuse watchdog group said, “Today’s en masse resignation is historic — it certainly will be seen as a milestone in the resolution of this crisis.”

“Catholics everywhere owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the steely and gutsy survivors who brought this about. Juan Carlos Cruz, Dr. James Hamilton and José Andrés Murillo withstood years of disrespect from Catholic church leaders, including the Pope himself, to get us to this point,” Barret Doyle said.

“Thanks too to Pope Francis for acting boldly at last,” she said.

Murillo tweeted: “For dignity, justice and truth: out with all the bishops. Criminals. They didn’t know how to protect the weakest, they exposed them to abuse and later they obstructed justice. For this, they only deserve to go.”

The bishops will continue in office unless or until the pope accepts their resignations.

The document in which Francis gave his evaluation of the situation of the church in Chile was leaked May 17 by Chilean news channel Tele 13. The Associated Press reported that the Vatican confirmed the document’s authenticity.

The pope wrote in the document that removing some church leaders from office “must be done,” but that “it is not enough; we must go further. It would be irresponsible of us not to go deep in looking for the roots and structures that allowed these concrete events to happen and carry on.”

In it, the pope said that “the painful situations that have happened are indications that something is wrong with the ecclesial body.”

The wound of sexual abuse, he said, “has been treated until recently with a medicine that, far from healing, seems to have worsened its depth and pain.”

Reminding the bishops that “the disciple is not greater than his master,” Francis warned them of a “psychology of the elite” that ignores the suffering of the faithful.

He also said he was concerned by reports regarding “the attitude with which some of you bishops have reacted in the face of present and past events.”

This attitude, the pope said, was guided by the belief that instead of addressing the issue of sexual abuse, bishops thought that “just the removal of people would solve the problem.”

In an accompanying footnote, the pope said the bishops’ behavior could be labeled as “the Caiphas syndrome,” referring to the high priest who condemned Jesus saying, “Better for one man to die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

The act of covering up cases of abuse, he added, was akin to the Latin American saying, “Muerto el perro se acabo la rabia” (“Dead dogs don’t bite”).

The document’s footnotes included several details from the investigation made by Scicluna, who is president of a board of review within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; the board handles appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse or other serious crimes.

The pope said the report confirmed that, in some instances, the bishops deemed accusations of abuse as “implausible.”

But Francis said he was “perplexed and ashamed” after he received confirmation that undue pressure by church officials was placed on “those who carry out criminal proceedings” and that church officials had destroyed compromising documents.

Those actions, he said, “give evidence to an absolute lack of respect for the canonical procedure and, even more so, are reprehensible practices that must be avoided in the future.”

Following the document’s release, Cruz applauded the pope’s evaluation of the abuse crisis and of the bishops’ behavior toward survivors of sexual abuse.

“This is the pope that I met during my conversations in the Vatican,” Cruz told Chilean news site, Emol, May 17. “I hope all (the bishops) resign and that the church in Chile begins to rebuild with true shepherds and not with these corrupt bishops who commit and cover up crimes, as the document states.”

Similar Posts


  1. Phil Greene says:

    What an incredible opportunity to start anew!
    Chile (and the rest of the world) want to see more involvement of Laity.. what better way than to involve the parishes(priests and lay) in a democratic election of their bishops.
    Everyone is waiting for action- one hopes the bishops are acting in the true spirit of reparation for such abuses of power,of conscience and sexual abuse.
    We can also hope that those abused by those in our Church live to see some justice in their lifetimes.
    Is the door finally opening wider? Pope Francis is always about mercy, and it is through seeing mercy in practise that bishops and priests can move the church forward in the spirit of openness. The Church must be free to make mistakes, admit them , learn from them, correct and adjust and then move forward, with everyone’s help.
    Gabriela Mistral, a Chilean poet and a lay Franciscan identified closely with the life of St. Francis “He is, for her, an artist and someone who experiences the world intensely, feeling the deepest compassion not just for people who are suffering, but for the feelings of the whole ecology of the world. Her Francis is both an artist and a teacher of artists”. Ref – Motivos: The Life of St. Francis” Elizabeth Horan. ..
    ..such a pity she is not alive today to meet our pope!

    We pray and wait for difficult changes to take place, soon.

  2. Frances Burke says:

    I must admit I didn’t see this coming four months ago. ‘All of Chile’s Bishops Resign’. An astonishing headline that admits to the collective responsibility of the Chilean hierarchy in covering up abuse.

    Does ‘Resign’ mean handing over the keys to their palaces and walking away from those collective responsibilities?

  3. Kevin Walters says:

    From NC Register see the link below.

    “The en masse resignations mean that the Holy Father is assuming personal responsibility for reconstructing an entire national episcopate on an accelerated pace, a difficult task fraught with peril. It is inconceivable that the Chilean bishops would drop this entire steaming mess on the Pope’s own desk without him inviting it.
    Consider the contrast with the Irish bishops in 2010. They were summoned for a sexual abuse summit with Pope Benedict XVI, which produced a pastoral letter to Ireland in March 2010 and the announcement of a program of apostolic visitations.
    In 2011, Benedict XVI appointed a trusted aide, Msgr. Charles Brown, apostolic nuncio to Ireland with a mandate for far-reaching reform of the Irish episcopate. But the Irish bishops resisted, and Archbishop Brown’s tenure yielded nothing in the way of major reforms. After five years he was given a very public demotion to Albania. The papal efforts at reform in Ireland were largely blocked by the Irish bishops.
    That will not happen in Chile. There will be no one left standing to block anything. It is a remarkable act of bravery on the part of the Holy Father, for within several months there will be no one left in the leadership of the Chilean Church whom the Holy Father has not personally selected”

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  4. Joe O'Leary says:

    I’m assured by someone who knows the Vatican well that the mass resignation was an act of solidarity by the Chilean bishops over against the Pope.

  5. Frances Burke says:

    The Pope has decided to send Archbishop Scicluna back to Chile to further investigate the diocese of Osorno where Bishop Barros is presiding.

    ‘A cat among the pigeons’ is a phrase that comes to mind.

  6. Frances Burke says:

    The Pops admits to a culture of abuse within the Church.

    I’m looking forward to hearing what the victims of this abuse (priests in this instance) have to say to him this weekend.

  7. Frances Burke says:

    A no holds barred interview with the one of the top experts on child protection within the Vatican. Searingly honest and a brilliant critique of how some abuse their positions within the Church.

    ‘[The pope’s] analysis of where this comes from is clericalism, understood as you as a priest have absolute power over consciences and lives, and with that holy power with which you are imbued, you can do whatever you wish, you can say whatever you wish, because you are with the Holy Spirit.’

    Parallels can be drawn with the article and the ongoing Repeal the 8th Amendment debate

Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.