Vatican City: Pope Francis is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children — evidence that he realizes the scandal is global and that inaction threatens to undermine his legacy.
Francis’ key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with US church leaders who have been deeply discredited by the latest accusations in the Catholic Church’s decades-long sex abuse and cover-up scandal.
The Feb 21-24 meeting at the Vatican 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.
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 has taken steps to make amends, sanction guilty bishops and remake the Chilean episcopacy.
More recently, Francis’ papacy has been jolted by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that he rehabilitated a top American cardinal from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI for having molested and harassed adult seminarians.
The Vatican hasn’t responded to the accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, but has promised “clarifications” that presumably will come sometime after Francis’ meeting Thursday with the US delegation.
The Vatican said Tuesday the meeting would be headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and also include Francis’ top sex abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
Di Nardo has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation that he groped a teenager.
Kerala cops to summon bishop
Kochi: Under pressure from activists, women’s groups and civil society, the Kerala police decided Wednesday to summon a Bishop accused of raping a nun for questioning, reported news agency Press Trust of India. The decision was taken after a marathon six-hour meeting. Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal will be questioned on September 19. There have been calls from all quarters for the Bishop’s arrest. But the police have been stalling, even after informing the High Court last month that the bishop had repeatedly raped the nun for almost two years. The nun alleged that she was sexually abused 13 times between 2014 and 2016.