More than 140 theologians, educators and lay leaders have called for all U.S. bishops to submit their resignations to Pope Francis, much like Chile’s 34 bishops did in May after revelations of sexual abuse and corruption, as a public act of penance and a “willing abdication of earthly status.”
“Today, we call on the Catholic Bishops of the United States to prayerfully and genuinely consider submitting to Pope Francis their collective resignation as a public act of repentance and lamentation before God and God’s People,” said a statement, posted in English and Spanish on the Daily Theology blog on Friday.
“Only then might the wrenching work of healing begin,” it said.
The statement came in response to Tuesday’s release of a grand jury report that detailed seven decades of sexual abuse by clergy and cover-up by church leaders in six dioceses in Pennsylvania, as well as allegations earlier this summer that former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, sexually abused two children and adult seminarians.
“We are brought to our knees in revulsion and shame by the abominations that these priests committed against innocent children,” the statement said. “We are sickened in equal measure by the conspiracy of silence among bishops who exploited victims’ wounds as collateral in self-protection and the preservation of power. It is clear that it was the complicity of the powerful that allowed this radical evil to flourish with impunity.”
Acknowledging that some bishops are “humble servants and well-intentioned pastors,” the statement’s signers still urged a collective resignation by all bishops because of the “systemic nature of this evil.”
“Systemic sin cannot be ended through individual goodwill. Its wounds are not healed through statements, internal investigations, or public relations campaigns but rather through collective accountability, transparency, and truth-telling,” the statement said.
“We are responsible for the house we live in, even if we did not build it ourselves,” it said.
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