Pope Francis Summons Bishops for Summit on Preventing Clergy Sex Abuse

Clay Curtis
September 14, 2018

"The Holy Father Francis, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, has made a decision to convene a meeting with the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the 'protection of minors, '" announced the press office.

The summit was announced a day before Francis will meet American church leaders hit by fresh accusations over the cover-up of sex abuse by priests.

The planned Vatican meeting is believed to be unprecedented, indicating that the church recognises that clergy sex abuse is a global problem - potentially even in non-Western countries where the church maintains strong social power and cases have not come to light in great number. O'Malley is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Pope Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July, but the Vatican's former US ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, has called for the pope step down in the wake of his failure to act against McCarrick until recently.

The Vatican said Francis accepted his resignation Thursday, announcing the decision at the exact moment that the USA delegation was arriving at the Apostolic Palace for an emergency meeting with the pope over another scandal involving an ex-U.S. cardinal.

In February, Catholic bishops from across the world will convene in Rome at the pope's invitation to discuss the "prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults". The guidelines were supposed to specify how bishops should tend to victims, punish offenders and keep pedophiles out of the priesthood.

Wuerl submitted his resignation three years ago, but stayed on working at the Vatican's request.

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Pope Francis meets U.S. Catholic Church leaders and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, during a private audience at the Vatican, Sept.13, 2018.

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

But the US plan has looked less like a model recently, given it exempted bishops like McCarrick.

Wuerl, 77, who was bishop of Pittsburgh between 1988 and 2006, has been under scrutiny over his handling of sexual abuse cases during the period addressed by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury. He is also the oldest member of the C9, at 85 years old. The news outlets said the report was due to be released September 25 and they obtained it in advance.

Bransfield also stated that the witnesses' statement regarding abuse by Fr. Gana taking place at the beach house he owned in Brigantine, N.J., is "misleading" because it fails to mention that he allowed many people to use his home and that he was neither present nor aware of the incident.

Francis removed him in July when the allegations were deemed credible, and since then, several other former seminarians and priests have come forward saying they were also abused or harassed by McCarrick.

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