May 18 (UPI) -- All the Catholic Church's Chilean bishops, in Italy to attend meetings over a sex assault scandal, submitted their resignations Friday in an unprecedented move.
The resignations of Chile's 34 Roman Catholic bishops came at the end of a three-day meeting in Rome that discussed concerns over the way abuse cases in the South American nation were handled.
The pope previously said he feels "pain and shame" for the "crucified lives" of clergy-related sex abuse victims, and acknowledged he made serious mistakes in his handling of the cases.
In a written statement to Spanish press, the bishops thanked Pope Francis for his "paternal listening and fraternal correction."
"We want to announce that all bishops present in Rome, in writing, have placed our positions in the Holy Father's hands so that he may freely decide regarding each one of us," Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo said on behalf of the Chilean bishops.
The bishops asked forgiveness for "serious errors and omissions" and thanked Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu for their in-depth investigation into the cases.
"All Chilean bishops have resigned. Unprecedented and good. This will change things forever," victim Juan Carlos Cruz, who met with the pope last month, tweeted Friday.
Errazuriz said the bishops will return to their dioceses in Chile and continue work until they hear from the pope.
Pope Francis angered abuse victims earlier this year when he said one bishop accused of covering up abuse cases had been slandered.