Every Chilean bishop offered to resign Friday over a sex abuse and cover-up scandal, in the biggest shakeup ever in the Catholic Church's long-running abuse saga.
The bishops announced at the end of an emergency summit with Pope Francis that all 31 active bishops and three retired ones in Rome had signed a document offering to resign and putting their fate in the hands of the pope. Francis can accept the resignations one by one, reject them or delay a decision.
It marked the first known time in history that an entire national bishops conference had offered to resign en masse over scandal, and laid bare the devastation that the abuse crisis has caused the Catholic Church in Chile and beyond.
Calls had mounted for the resignations after details emerged of the contents of a 2,300-page Vatican report into the Chilean scandal leaked early Friday. Francis had accused the bishops of destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring investigators to minimize abuse accusations and showing "grave negligence" in protecting children from pedophile priests.
In one of the most damning documents from the Vatican on the issue, Francis said the entire Chilean church hierarchy was collectively responsible for "grave defects" in handling cases and the resulting loss of credibility that the Catholic Church has suffered.
"No one can exempt himself and place the problem on the shoulders of the others," Francis wrote in the document, which was published by Chilean T13 television and confirmed as accurate Friday by the Vatican.
For years, sex abuse victims have blasted the Chilean hierarchy for discrediting their claims, protecting abusers and moving them around rather than reporting them to police and then handing out light sentences when church sanctions were imposed.
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