World News

Pope Summons Bishops For Sexual Abuse Summit

Pope Summons Bishops For Sexual Abuse Summit

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.

A Vatican spokesperson said the meeting of the heads of national Catholic bishops conferences would take place February 21-24.

The February 21-24 meeting is believed to be the first of its kind, and signals a realization at the highest levels of the church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem and not restricted to the Anglo-Saxon world, as many church leaders have long tried to insist.

The McCarrick scandal took on crisis proportions two weeks ago after the Vatican's former United States ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, accused two dozen Vatican and U.S. cardinals and bishops by name of covering up for McCarrick.

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.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said he wants the Pope to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation he groped a teenager.

When Wuerl spoke with Francis at the end of August, the pope told him to consult his priests about what he should do - and Wuerl did so at an annual Labor Day picnic for clergy, which he referred to in his letter on Tuesday.

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DiNardo has also said recent accusations that top Vatican officials - including the current Pope - covered up for McCarrick since 2000 deserve answers. Benedict is credited with having turned around the Vatican on the issue of sex abuse while he was cardinal, forcing bishops around the world to send all their cases to him for review because they weren't sanctioning abusers.

In an exclusive interview with FOX 5 after the grand jury report came out, Wuerl stated that he would not resign from his post and defended his record of dealing with predator priests while he was Pittsburgh's bishop.

Since the report was unveiled, a prominent deacon at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington said he would refuse to participate in the Mass alongside the cardinal.

The Archbishop of Washington has said he will travel to Rome to ask the Pope to consider accepting his resignation.

He added that he will talk soon with Pope Francis about the resignation he presented roughly three years ago, CNN reported.

Since the Pennsylvania report was issued last month, prosecutors in six U.S. states have announced plans for similar investigations.


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