A group of more than 3,000 Catholic theologians, educators and lay leaders have called for all US Catholic bishops to submit their resignations to Pope Francis after revelations of sexual abuse and corruption.
“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, on a blog called Daily Theology.
The open letter comes on the heels of the recent bombshell grand jury report that sent shockwaves to the top.
“They found that there was not only wide-spread sexual abuse, but they found that there was a systematic coverup that went all the way to the Vatican,” Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the Today Show.
The Pennsylvania case involves thousands of victims and hundreds of priests. The attorney general accuses the church of hiding evidence from parishioners and police.
“They would shield these predators from law enforcement and then they would document all of it and place it in the secret archives,” said Shapiro.
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said he is grateful the crimes are coming to light and bringing change.
“I’m happy that the law enforcement is stepping up to the plate,” Pavone told CBN News. “That has to happen, and we just have to continue calling for, working for and praying for authentic reform.”
Many Catholics are expressing their anger.
“I think it’s horrific,” Marilyn Legato from Gillette, NJ, said in an interview with Philly.com “I don’t have enough bad words. It’s enough to shake your faith…”
The Vatican responded to the state attorney general’s claims telling CNN, “If the prosecutor is referring to something outside the report, we’ll wait to see that before commenting.”
On top of that comes this week’s explosive accusations of a coverup by the Pope himself.
Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the former papal nuncio, published an 11-page letter calling on Pope Francis to resign.
Vigano claims he warned Francis about disgraced former Washington archbishop Theodore McCarrick in 2013, but Francis did nothing about it.
Fr. Pavone cautions against calls for the Pope’s resignation.
He said, “Before you come to a decision on that question, you might need to know what’s going on. Everyone is asking in their minds the same questions. Who knew what and when? What did they do or not do and why.”
“Once we hear as much information as we can get then, everybody, including the pope himself, can make the proper decisions about what to do next,” added Pavone.
Some have questioned Vigano’s motives, noting he is a known critic of the Pope.
Pope Francis reportedly read the letter but declined comment.
Meanwhile, in his recent trip to Ireland, Pope Francis apologized for the sex abuses that have rocked the Catholic church, but the faithful may be making their own statement.
The Pope’s recent outdoor mass was expected to bring half a million people, but only 130,000 showed up.