Theologians, educators, lay leaders want US bishops’ resignation

Over 140 theologians, educators and lay leaders have called for all the bishops in the United States to resign.

Just as Chile’s 34 bishops resigned in May after revelations of sexual abuse and corruption, US bishops should also submit their resignations to Pope Francis.

Doing so would show the public an act of penance and a “willing abdication of earthly status,” say those who are urging the bishops to resign.

“Only then might the wrenching work of healing begin,” a blog from the group says.

The call for the bishops’ resignation 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.

The report followed recent allegations 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.”

While the group acknowledges some bishops are “humble servants and well-intentioned pastors,” it still urges 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 from the group said.

“We are responsible for the house we live in, even if we did not build it ourselves,” it said.

The statement also expressed support for “sound proposals” such as those for external investigations like the one in Pennsylvania, which “would begin to convert this ecclesial culture of violence into one of transparency, accountability, humility, safety and earned trust.”

But “truth-telling and repentance are prerequisites to conversion” at the institutional as well as individual level, the statement said, noting that “no genuine process of healing and reform can begin” without such a demonstration of repentance.



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