In response to the recent abuse scandal in the United States, Pope Francis is taking unprecedented steps. The leader of the Catholic Church has summoned bishops from around the world to Rome for a meeting focused on protecting minors.
The Vatican announced the news on Wednesday. The pope called the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences to gather from Feb. 21 to 24. This will be the first global gathering of church leaders to discuss the crisis.
"The announcement came on the eve of a meeting in the Vatican on Thursday between the pope and a group of leading bishops from the United States," reports The New York Times.
They are gathered to seek answers from the pope as to why one of their most prominent colleagues, Cardinal McCormick, was allowed to ascend to a top position in the American church, despite the allegations that he had sexually abused seminarians.
Reports of his misconduct led to his resignation as a cardinal. His successor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, announced that he will be discussing this resignation with Pope Francis. Wuerl has faced criticism after a grand jury report last month revealed more than 1,000 children had been victimized in Pennsylvania and church leaders had covered it up.
After the grand jury report, a bombshell letter by the formal Vatican ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, shook the Church once again. It accused Pope Francis of lifting sanctions against McCarrick put in place by Pope Benedict XVI.
Archbishop Viganò published his letter, and he called for Francis’ resignation late last month. Neither Pope Francis nor Pope Benedict have replied to the letter.
The February meetings that Pope Francis has called are intended to place the focus on those victimized. It is hoped that the church will fully address both the abuse and the practice of leaders of covering it up.
On Tuesday, the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Pope Benedict’s former personal secretary and closest adviser, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, spoke about the crisis at a book presentation: “The Catholic Church looks full of confusion at its own 9/11, at its own Sept. 11, even though this catastrophe isn’t associated with a single date, but rather at so many days and years, and innumerable victims.”
He added that the crisis showed “how many souls have been wounded irrevocably and mortally by priests from the Catholic Church.”
Please pray that this meeting will be successful in addressing the problems in the Church. Please also pray for all those who have been the victims of abuse.