Chilean Bishops Offer to Resign En Masse Over Sex Scandals

Protesters demonstrate against the Rev. Fernando Karadima, and his protege Juan Barros, bishop of Osorno, as Pope Francis rides past on his way to celebrates Mass at the Maquehue Airport in Temuco, Chile, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The fallout from the Catholic Church’s failure to stop the molestation of mostly male youths by homosexual priests continues:

All 34 of Chile’s Roman Catholic bishops offered their resignations on Friday over a child sexual abuse scandal, and asked forgiveness for the “pain they caused the victims, the pope, the people of God, and our country for the grave errors and omissions we committed.”

The mass resignation — the first of its kind, according to the Vatican — came after Pope Francis accused the bishops at an emergency meeting this week of failing to investigate complaints, allowing evidence to be destroyed, and covering up for abusive priests by moving them from place to place. He said the systemic failures had left him “perplexed and ashamed.”

Outrage over the scandal has shaken the church for years, but it was stirred anew in January when Pope Francis publicly defended Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, whom he appointed to the Diocese of Osorno in 2015. Bishop Barros had been accused of ignoring and covering up the repeated abuse of minors by the Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.

The fallout prompted the pope to assign two investigators, who took the testimony of 64 people and produced a damning 2,300-page report on clerical sexual abuses in Chile and attempts to conceal the activity. The report detailed widespread failings on the part of the church hierarchy, and led to this week’s three-day meeting of the bishops at the Vatican.

Let’s be clear: these are not “pedophile” priests, who seek sexual gratification from pre-pubescent children of both sexes. Little girls, or even women, have nothing to do with this. The Church’s “pedophile” scandal is almost entirely the abuse of young males, whether parishioners, altar boys or young priests. It’s gone on for decades, and neither the papacies of John Paul II, Benedict XVI nor Francis have truly addressed it.

The pope may accept or reject the resignations individually, though it was not immediately clear when that would happen. Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Pérez, general secretary of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference, said the men would remain in their positions until the pope made his decisions.

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.” 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.”

So is every Catholic, whether practicing or simply cradle. The Pope ought to accept their resignations, fire the bishops in other countries who allowed this scandal to fester for so long, re-assert Church teaching, and push for the right of heterosexual married men to join the priesthood, and for currently celibate priests to marry women. Alternatively, the Church can simply give up on its opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage, and go with the flow.