Pope To Meet With U.S. Church Leaders Over Clergy Sex Abuse

Pauline Gross
September 13, 2018

The summit recalls the April 2002 meeting John Paul called with the senior U.S. church leadership after the sex abuse scandal first exploded publicly in Boston.

The meeting will take place in the Vatican from the 21st to the 24th of February 2019.

More recently, Francis's papacy has been jolted by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that he rehabilitated a top American cardinal from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI for having molested and harassed adult seminarians. Pope Francis removed McCarrick from his position as a cardinal in July.

However, Pope Francis is scheduled to meet Thursday with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the pope's top adviser on clergy sex abuse.

Three cardinals were absent from the latest C9 meeting, including Francisco Javier Errazuriz, who is accused of ignoring reports of abuse in Chile, and George Pell who faces prosecution in Australia for child sexual offences.

The pope's decision comes on the heels of a series of revelations about the history of sexual abuse in the church, including a 900 page report from a grand jury in Pennsylvania that exposed that more than 300 priests had sexually abused children since 1947. The meeting in February will bring together the heads of all national bishops' conferences, from more than 100 countries. The accusations were levied in a letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who called on Francis to resign.

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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.

An open question in advance of the summit is whether the Vatican will issue a universal call for bishops and religious superiors to report suspected abuse to police; now, it advises church leaders to report suspected abuse when it's required under local laws.

Last month, in a letter to the world's Catholics, Francis said the church must prevent sexual abuse from being "covered up and perpetuated".

Tomorrow Francis will meet with leaders of the United States Bishops' Conference to discuss their response to the McCarrick case and the findings of a Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania into clerical abuse and its cover-up in six dioceses. In 2015, the Vatican said it would set up a tribunal for judging bishops accused of negligence or coverups; it was never created.

It required accusations of abuse to be reported to police and the permanent removal from ministry of any priest found to have abused a minor. And, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik said he would agree with the name change in the best interests of the school.

Other reports by GizPress

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