Pope calls meeting of key bishops on sexual abuse: Vatican

Lamar Ellis
September 13, 2018

This week's meeting will be chaired by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and will also include Francis's top sex abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

After weeks of relative silence, Pope Francis has agreed to meet a delegation of US bishops and cardinals to discuss the Vatican response to the clergy abuse crisis.

The Vatican press office said Pope Francis will have presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences convene at the Vatican from February 21 to February 24. He eventually admitted to "grave errors in judgment" and moved to punish guilty bishops and remake the Chilean episcopacy, which he accused of helping to fuel a "culture of cover-up".

The pope's former apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, accused the pope of knowing about and ignoring sanctions placed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI due to his sexual misconduct with seminarians.

Wuerl said he will meet with Francis about the resignation he presented almost three years ago at age 75, the mandatory age for Catholic bishops to submit their retirement to the Pope.

The USCCB Executive Committee, Cardinal DiNardo had said, met recently and established three goals: "an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints".

A top Vatican official earlier this week acknowledged that some allegations against McCarrick were brought to the Vatican's attention as early as 2000.

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A statement from the pope's cardinal advisory board September 12 said, "The Holy Father Francis, hearing the Council of Cardinals, made a decision to convene a meeting with the Presidents of the Bishops Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of 'protection of minors'".

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano sparked a firestorm last month when he claimed Francis had personally ignored abuse allegations against prominent USA cardinal Theodore McCarrick for 5 years.

Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburg for some 18 years, offered to resign almost three years ago when he turned 75 but Francis hasn't accepted it.

Amid such turmoil, a gathering of the global church leadership to discuss a specific problem - in the tradition of church synods and councils - is a good idea, but should take place sooner than February, said Christopher Bellitto, a church historian at Kean University in New Jersey.

Since the Pennsylvania report was issued last month, prosecutors in a half-dozen US states have announced plans for similar investigations.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a policy in 2002 that is regarded as the gold standard policy.

The commission set up by Francis said on Sunday that the fight against abuse must be a Church priority and emphasised the importance of listening to victims. Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, according to Spiegel Online and Die Zeit.

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