Every active Chilean bishop in the Roman Catholic Church offered to resign Friday.
The offer came after Pope Francis accused the bishops of failing to investigate sex abuse cases and protect children.
All 31 Chilean church officials made the offer to resign at the end of an emergency meeting at the Vatican. The pope can accept their resignations, reject them, or delay a decision.
But their offer is a historic step in the Catholic Church’s long struggle with sex abuse and cover-ups by religious workers. It reportedly is the first time that an entire group of bishops has offered to step down after a scandal.
Calls for their resignation came after the media learned of a 2,300-page Vatican report about the sex abuse scandal in Chile. Pope Francis had noted information from the report in a document that he gave each Chilean bishop at the start of the meeting.
In the document, he accused the bishops of destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring investigators to minimize abuse claims, and failing to protect children from pedophile priests.
In a statement, the bishops asked forgiveness for their mistakes. They said they hoped to help repair the damage they caused.
One of the victims said the bishops exposed helpless people to abuse and then tried to stop justice.
“For this,” he said, “they deserve only to go.”
I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.
The Associated Press reported this story. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted the report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in this Story
bishop - n. an official in some Christian religions who is ranked higher than a priest and who is usually in charge of church matters in a specific geographical area
church - n. a particular Christian group
entire - adj. complete or full
scandal - n. an occurrence in which people are shocked and upset because of behavior that is morally or legally wrong
pedophile - adj. a person who has a sexual interest in children
expose - v. to cause (someone) to experience something or to be influenced or affected by something
deserve - v. used to say that someone or something should or should not have or be given something