Last week, the Chilean bishops wrote the following document, entitled “Declaration, Decisions, and Commitments of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference.” In the letter, Francis said he was “impressed by the work of reflection, discernment, and decisions.”
The decisions they outlined, the Pope called, “realistic and concrete.” He noted his hope that this is a “decisive help” in confronting the crisis.”
The Pope prayed for them, especially in “this communal and pastoral effort.”
Last week, the Bishops of Chile met to discuss their sex abuse crisis in their Church and how they failed in responding to it. In the joint document they produced, the bishops acknowledge their “failures” and “omissions” and underscored their commitment to help prosecutors investigate sex abuse allegations.
“We have placed our positions in the hands of the Holy Father so that he may freely decide with respect to each one of us,” the bishops of Chile had said in an unprecedented move, when they presented their resignation, May 18, 2018, in the Holy See, at the end of the meetings held with the Holy Father.
In the daily bulletins to date, Pope Francis has accepted five resignations of Chilean bishops so far, including that of Bishop Barros of Osorno.
On May 18, Monsignor Juan Ignacio González, Bishop of San Bernardo and Member of the Permanent Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, and Bishop Fernando Ramos, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago, and Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, have presented the resignation declaration of all the South American nation’s bishops.
The 34 Chilean bishops met Pope Francis in Rome from May 15-17 to “examine in depth their causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that have led in some cases to their cover-up and serious omissions towards the victims,” reported the Holy See in a statement, published on May 12.
In the declaration, the Chilean prelates asked for forgiveness “for the pain caused to the victims, to the Pope, to the People of God and to the country for our grave errors and omissions” and thank Pope Francis “for his fatherly listening and fraternal correction.”
Likewise, the bishops thanked the victims “for their perseverance and courage, despite the enormous personal, spiritual, social and family difficulties they have had to face, so many times in the midst of incomprehension and attacks by the ecclesial community itself.”
Finally, the bishops of Chile stated: “All the bishops present in Rome have placed our positions in the hands of the Holy Father so that he freely decides with respect to each one of us.”
On May 17, Pope Francis wrote a letter to the 34 bishops, after having four meetings with them in three days, to make a “frank discernment in the face of the grave events that have damaged the ecclesial communion and weakened the work of the Church of Chile in recent years,” explained the Holy Father.
The Pope told the bishops “to continue building a prophetic Church, which knows how to put in the center what is important: the service to its Lord in the hungry, in the prisoner, in the migrant, in the abused.”