Pope calls meeting of key bishops on sexual abuse: Vatican

Pauline Gross
September 13, 2018

POPE Francis has taken the unprecedented step of summoning bishops from across the world to the Vatican to discuss the protection of children from sexual abuse.

Francis' key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with U.S. church leaders, who are facing fresh accusations following the bombshell grand jury report.

The meeting is set at the Vatican from February 21 to 24, 2019, according to a communiqué of the Pope's Council of Cardinals. In the U.S., a grand jury report released last month from Pennsylvania found that more than 300 priests had sexually abused minors in the state over seven decades.

McCarrick's removal was followed by a bombshell Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuses and a wide-ranging cover-up.

In his August 16 statement, Cardinal DiNardo said that the USCCB Executive Committee had 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".

Mr Bransfield's ouster was announced on the day leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church were meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss a response to other sex abuse scandals.

The McCarrick scandal took on crisis proportions two weeks ago after the Vatican's former USA ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, accused two dozen Vatican and U.S. cardinals and bishops by name of covering up for McCarrick.

As the moment the U.S. cardinals arrived for their meeting with Francis in the Vatican's apostolic palace, the Holy See announced the Pope had ordered Archbishop of Baltimore, William E. Lori, to investigate harassment allegations against West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield.

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DiNardo has also said recent accusations that top Vatican officials - including the current Pope - covered up for McCarrick since 2000 deserve answers.

In July, Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigned amid claims of abuse.

The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that McCarrick would invite seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed, the Associated Press reported.

DiNardo said the report shows the pain of those who have been victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, and by those who protected the abusers and permitted the actions to continue. Similar investigations are taking place in several other states.

Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning, DiNardo released a brief statement through the US bishops' conference.

The archdiocese issued a statement Wednesday confirming that both alleged victims had come forward to report abuse by the priest, the Rev. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, one of them in 2001.

But a man testifying four years ago in the Philadelphia trial of Monsignor William Lynn, the first senior U.S. Catholic Church official convicted of concealing sex abuse, accused Bransfield of misconduct.

Other reports by GizPress

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