Every bishop in Chile offered his resignation to Pope Francis on Friday, after a three-day emergency summit at the Vatican to discuss Chile’s sex abuse scandal.
In total, 31 active bishops and three retired bishops announced in a statement that they had offered to resign over the scandal and place the issue “in the hands of the Holy Father so that he might freely decide for each one of us.”
The simultaneous resignation of all the bishops in a single country is thought to be unprecedented in the modern history of the Catholic church.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said he had no comment on whether Pope Francis would accept the mass resignation.
Pope Francis called the country’s bishops to Rome after he received a 2,300-page report detailing sexual abuses by priests in Chile.
At the center of the scandal is the Bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros, whom Francis appointed in 2015 amid an outcry that Barros had known about and covered up abuses.
The Pope stridently defended Bishop Barros, calling accusations against him “calumny.”
In an about-face last April, after receiving the Vatican investigator’s report, Francis said he had made “grave errors in judgment,” and apologized to Chile’s sex abuse victims.
In May, the Pope met privately at the Vatican with three of Barros’ main accusers and asked their forgiveness.
In response to the resignation of the country’s bishops on Friday, Marie Collins, a former member of the Pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors, said that the gesture was not enough.
“No bishop removed – all allowed to resign. Really nothing changes,” Collins wrote on Twitter.