POPE Francis has started a four-day summit in a bid to fight the issue of sexual abuse in catholic churches around the world.
Together with pope, nearly 200 catholic bishops are present at the summit in Rome starting on Thursday and to end on Sunday.
The Vatican said on Thursday morning that the four days will be spent on reflections and discussions with survivors of catholic church’s sexual abuse scandal.
The four-day summit is a response to decades-old church’s pedophile priests crisis. A report had showed sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy existing in the catholic church over the years.
At the start of the summit on Thursday morning, Francis called on the church “to heal grave wounds the pedophilia scandal has caused to both the young and the believers.”
“In the face of this scourge of sexual abuse perpetrated by men of the church to the detriment of minors, I thought I would summon you,” the Pope told the catholic leaders in Vatican city. He said they would all together “lend an ear and listen to the Holy Spirit … and to the cry of the small who are asking for justice.”
“The holy people of God are watching and waiting not for simple and obvious condemnations,” Francis continued, “but concrete and efficient measures.”
The catholic pontiff said that he had made a list of guidelines from bishops’ conferences around the world to hand out to the assembly for them to reflect upon.
The summit will include two speeches by Francis, talks outlining best practices, small group discussions among bishops and a penitential ceremony involving abuse survivors. And it also aim to raise awareness in parts of the world, like much of Asia and Africa, where the issue is barely registering.
The summit organisers on Wednesday had met with abuse survivors, saying afterward that the meeting will help them “better understand the gravity and urgency of the difficulties” church leaders will face during the four-day summit.
The summit centers around three themes: responsibility on Thursday, accountability on Friday and transparency on Saturday. And on Sunday, more than 100 bishops from around the world, as well as other Catholic leaders, will gather for Mass in Sala Regia, an ornate hall in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
The catholic leaders present at the meeting comes from around continent with 36 from Africa, 24 from North and South America, 18 from Asia, 32 from Europe and four from Oceania, according to the organisers.
In addition to Roman Catholic bishops, there will be 14 leaders of Oriental Catholic churches, 22 superiors general of religious orders and 14 members of the Vatican’s own bureaucracy, including the heads of 10 departments.