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Pope Francis Summons World’s Bishops to Meet on Sexual Abuse

“In these times, it seems like the ‘Great Accuser’ has been unchained and has it in for bishops,” he said. “True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.”

Among the American church leaders scheduled to meet the pope on Thursday to discuss the matter are Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, Francis’ leading adviser on the sexual abuse issue.

Professor Caffo said that the Protection of Minors Commission and Cardinal O’Malley, its leader, had agreed upon the need for the conference and that Cardinal O’Malley had proposed it on Tuesday, telling them the Holy See needed “to give more energy to this process.”

“Cardinal O’Malley is very happy about this,” Professor Caffo said.

Many survivors of abuse, and people who campaign on their behalf, have lamented that the letters and the power struggles they have uncorked in the Vatican have eclipsed the central issue of protecting children from abuse within the church. The meetings Francis has called for February are intended to put the issue front and center again.

For decades, abuse festered in the church.

It was not until 2002 that the sexual abuse crisis came into open view, and the Vatican was forced to acknowledge a problem that has threatened its credibility around the world. Under Pope John Paul II, Benedict served as the prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and personally read many of the files about clerical abuse. As pope, he cracked down on hundreds of priests.

There were high hopes after the election of Francis in 2013 that he would tackle the abuse problem systemically, and hold accountable bishops who covered it up. And at first, abuse survivors were encouraged when Francis appeared to act on a proposal by his special commission on sexual abuse to create a tribunal to discipline bishops who covered it up. But when it met resistence in the Vatican, the pope dispensed with it.

The pope later issued an edict, titled “As a Loving Mother,” saying that the Vatican already had all the offices necessary to investigate and discipline negligent bishops, and that it would do so. This enraged abuse survivors on the commission.

Source: NYT > World

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