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Pope Francis summons bishops from all over world for sex abuse summit

Pope Francis summons bishops from all over world for sex abuse summit

As sexual abuse scandals continue to plague the Catholic church, Pope Francis has now taken an unprecedented step towards doing something about it.

In recent weeks, the Catholic Church, and Cardinal Wuerl in particular, have been rocked by a Pennsylvania grand-jury report on the mishandling of sex abuse charges by six of the state's dioceses and by the recent revelations of decades of serial sexual abuse and misconduct by his predecessor, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

Its convening signals awareness at the highest levels of the Catholic Church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem, not restricted to some parts of the world or a few Western countries.

Earlier this year, Francis faced what was then the worst crisis of his papacy when he repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest. 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 council has been meeting with Francis over the last three days and on Monday expressed their "full solidarity" with the Pope noting that the Vatican was preparing a response to an explosive dossier from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

The Vatican said that among those meeting the pope would be the head of the US bishops' conference, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of the Galveston-Houston area, and Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston.

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Last month, conservative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano claimed Pope Francis had personally ignored abuse allegations against prominent U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick for five years.

Cardinal DiNardo requested the meeting with Pope Francis in order to discuss the allegations in Viganò's letter which, he said in a statement, deserve answers.

Wuerl visited the Vatican last month after the release of a bombshell grand jury report in Pennsylvania that revealed allegations of abuse by more than 300 priests across the state, which also questioned Wuerl's own conduct as a supervisor of priests when he was bishop of Pittsburgh. Two of those allegations resulted in settlements, the bishops said. In a letter to priests on Tuesday, he said he would be returning to Rome soon to discuss his resignation.

The unprecedented summit is scheduled to take place February 21-24 and comes on the heels of serious questions about Pope Francis's handling of the sexual abuse committed by Catholic bishops and priests most recently in the United States and Chile.

The U.S. isn't alone in digging into its past. German media reported Wednesday that a church-commissioned study detailed 3,677 abuse cases between 1946 and 2014.

Achieving the goals, he had said, would involve "consultation with experts, laity and clergy, as well as the Vatican".


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