“Liberal Catholic” theologians, lay leaders call for mass resignations of US bishops

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.

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.

“As a collective body, the bishops have given the faithful little indication that they recognize and take accountability for the breathtaking magnitude of the violence and deceit that has continued unabated under their leadership,” it said.

The pope has accepted five of Chile’s bishops’ resignations so far. The statement notes that Chile has an active bishop-to-Catholic ratio similar to the one in the United States, while the crisis in the U.S. seems to have a broader geographic scope.

“After years of suppressed truth, the unreserved decisiveness of the Chilean bishops’ resignations communicated to the faithful a message that Catholics in the United States have yet to hear, with an urgency we have yet to witness: We have caused this devastation. We have allowed it to persist. We submit ourselves to judgment in recompense for what we have done and failed to do.

Several of the signers are graduate students or younger Catholics who were not old enough to fully comprehend the sexual abuse crisis that has been reported in NCR since the 1980s and by The Boston Globe in the early 2000s.

The statement notes that the issue is not liberal or conservative. “It does not emerge from a particular faction or ideology but rather from the heart of a wounded Church,” it said. “It is an expression of fidelity to the victims, to Jesus Christ, to the Church in whose service we have devoted our lives.”


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4 comments on ““Liberal Catholic” theologians, lay leaders call for mass resignations of US bishops

  1. [Fr. Z calls for a mass exorcism by the US bishops in and of their dioceses
    before the meeting – and of the nation at the meeting ]

    PROPOSAL to all the Bishops of these USA for your November 2018 Meeting

    Posted on 17 August 2018 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    These times call for action that priests and bishops are truly ordained for: wield spiritual authority given by Christ Himself.

    Let’s use all our spiritual weapons. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, mortifications, etc.

    But let us not exclude those aimed directly at the Enemy, the mighty prayers of the Rite of Exorcism.

    The Enemy is deep into this crisis. Who thinks he isn’t? Fight demon fire with holy fire.

    Respectfully, please, open your paternal hearts to read this broken filial heart’s petition.

    Your Excellencies, Your Eminences,

    I have a suggestion for you to carry out in your upcoming November meeting.

    With grave respect for the office you each hold and for the spiritual mandate which God and the Apostolic See have entrusted to you as individuals in your respective dioceses and as a college for our nation, please consider this course of action in response to the serious crisis we face as a Church before the eyes of God and the world.

    The crisis we face arises from both human weakness and sin, but also demonic activity of the Enemy of the soul.

    I ask each and every one of you, individually, before your upcoming November meeting, to perform a Rite of Exorcism over your respective dioceses, or, if you are the Auxiliary or Emeritus Bishop to take part. If you are non-episcopal Administrator, invite a bishop to do it. Whether you decide to do this privately or publicly, please – just do it.

    In addition, during the November meeting, together as a body, go to the National Shrine of Our Lady and perform a Rite of Exorcism over the whole nation.

    While I am a priest of the Latin Church, and I do not know the specific Exorcism Rites of the Eastern Churches, I am confident that you Eastern prelates can help your Latin brethren understand how you will be able to participate with them when you gather together.

    With due respect, therefore, to Eastern Churches and Rites, and since the majority of you are of the Latin Church, use our traditional Roman Ritual, in Latin. Some of you will need to work on that, but it is – according to the testimony of exorcists I know – more effective than merely in the vernacular and more effective than the modern, updated Rite.

    Your Excellencies, Your Eminences, do not opt for less than what is tried, true and effective. The older, traditional Rite is time tested for centuries. That’s your best option: Rituale Romanum Title XI, Chapter 3.

    Do not compromise.

    As bishops, individually and collectively, you wield great spiritual authority given to you by Our Lord Himself. With that authority comes the duty to use it when appropriate.

    Now is an appropriate time. Who, having the Faith, can deny it?

    We need you to do this. Please, do this. Please open your hearts for us, and give this request your prayerful consideration.

    Respectfully, in Christ the High Priest, in Mary the Queen of Apostles, and in Joseph the Terror of Demons, I offer this request.

    Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    If any bishop needs help with the Latin, he or his secretary can check this post HERE. In 2016 I recorded the Latin of Chapter 3 to make available – discreetly – to bishops and priests only. I read Chapter 3 deliberately, pedantically, with careful pronunciation. I omit rubrics, which you would not read aloud. I also have that recording slowed down to 0.7 speed to help you learn it.

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    This is war.

  2. Not a bad idea at all. Fr. Z’s on a roll this week.

  3. Pope on down have to resign, and we need to start all over again. Exorcism will not work; these perverts are too far gone. It is not just the US; it is Worldwide ! Have law enforcement in all the countries empower grand juries and arrest the perverts and their enablers. Might have to build bigger jails. “Wuerl from the Pent House to the Big House”: Has a nice ring to it.

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