Pope Francis summons bishops for meeting on protecting minors

Leroy Wright
September 15, 2018

Pope Francis is summoning senior Catholic bishops from around the world to a February summit to discuss the church's burgeoning clergy sex abuse scandal involving attacks on minors and years of cover-ups of allegations against parish priests.

While the Vatican has so far not released any statement following the audience between the Pope and the U.S. bishops, a transcript of remarks Francis made to Jesuits while in Ireland was published today by La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit publication which is overseen by the Secretariat of State.

The meeting of more than 100 Roman Catholic officials is believed to be the first of its kind and a recognition that church leaders think the sex abuse scandal is an global problem.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl was named in Philadelphia's grand jury report into sex abuse in the Catholic Church as someone who had allowed priests to continue working despite allegations of sexual assault during his time as Archbishop of Pittsburgh.

The Americans have called on Francis to launch a Vatican-led investigation into how Theodore McCarrick, a former United States cardinal, climbed the ranks, even as rumours swirled about his behaviour.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USA bishops' conference, asked for the meeting after Viganò last month accused the pope of knowing for years about sexual misconduct by former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick and doing nothing about it. They are to discuss the church's sexual abuse scandal in the country and the cover-up of years of abuse claims against hundreds of parish priests.

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Garcia Ovejero reiterated the council's last written statement from September 10 in which the members asked Pope Francis for a reflection on "the work, structure and composition of the council itself, also taking into account the advanced age of some of its members".

The US Bishops' Conference issued a statement after the talks "regarding the recent moral crisis in the American Catholic Church".

Der Spiegel magazine reported on Wednesday that a study commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference had revealed that 1,670 clerics and priests had sexually abused 3,677 minors, mostly males, in Germany over a 70-year period.

However, the wave of sex abuse claims involving Catholic Church clergy in the US continues.

McCarrick has said that he had "absolutely no recollection" of the alleged abuse of the teenager but has not commented on the other allegations against him. He called the meeting "a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange".

The pope's acceptance of his resignation was announced just as a four-member US delegation of bishops - including Bransfield's cousin, Monsignor Brian Bransfield - was meeting with Francis about the impact of recent revelations of sex abuse by priests and cover-ups by the church that have implicated Francis himself. He's denied all allegations.

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