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Pope Francis summons top Catholic Bishops as church battles sex abuse scandals
THE Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis has summoned the Presidents of the Bishops Conference of every country to a meeting to brainstorm on how to prevent sexual abuses by priests and better protect children.
The Catholic church is currently embroiled in a series of scandals following reports that many acts of sexual abuse carried out by priests on children, were covered up by the church’s leadership.
“The Holy Father Francis, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, has decided to convene a meeting with the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the ‘protection of minors,’” the Vatican press office said in a statement on Wednesday.
The announcement comes just one day before Pope Francis is due to meet with US church leaders over a recent grand jury report which claimed 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s — and that a string of bishops in six dioceses covered up for them.
The meeting which will hold from February 21 to 24, 2019, is believed to be the first of its kind, and many say it represents an acknowledgment by the Church’s highest authority that clergy sex abuse is a global problem. Over 100 Bishops are expected to attend the meeting.
President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the United States of America, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, will preside over the meeting, alongside Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Pope Francis’ top sex abuse adviser.
Earlier this year, the Pope Francis admitted to “grave errors in judgment” over a sex abuse scandal in Chile, having made statements discrediting the alleged victims.
The pope also issued an unprecedented letter in August this year, in which he acknowledged “once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons”.