Pope Summons World’s Bishops for Meeting on Clerical Abuse

In the wake of global reports of clerical sexual abuse, Pope Francis has summoned the presidents of the world’s conferences of Catholic bishops to Rome for a February 2019 meeting to, in the words of Paloma Garcia Ovejero, the deputy director of the Holy See Press Office, “talk about the prevention of the abuses of minors and vulnerable adults.” This meeting—the first of its kind—will bring together bishops from more than 100 countries and follows Francis’ admission to “grave errors in judgment” in his response to the sexual-abuse scandals that have plagued the church worldwide. Professor Ernesto Caffo, a member of Francis’ Commission for the Protection of Minors, has stated that the focus of the conference will be on training members of the hierarchy to spot instances of abuse, on holding those responsible accountable for their actions, on active intervention when cases of abuse are brought to light and on listening to survivors of such abuse. This summons comes as the Vatican confronts an August letter written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, accusing the Vatican hierarchy of a systemic cover-up of allegations of clerical sexual abuse—including that of former Cardinal and archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick, who was removed from public ministry earlier this year.

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