Pope Francis summons bishops from all over world for sex abuse summit

Pope Francis summons bishops from all over world for sex abuse summit

The U.S. conference of bishops issued what is considered the gold-standard policy in 2002, requiring accusations of abuse to be reported to police and the permanent removal from ministry of any priest found to have abused a minor.

The meeting, on February 21-24, is believed to be the first of its kind.

The Catholic Church is facing sexual abuse scandals in the United States, Chile, Australia and Germany, among others.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl was named in Philadelphia's grand jury report into sex abuse in the Catholic Church as someone who had allowed priests to continue working despite allegations of sexual assault during his time as Archbishop of Pittsburgh.

The pope's key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis is due to meet with US Catholic church leaders, who have been further discredited by the latest accusations in the decades-long sexual abuse and cover-up scandal.

Claiming the Pope had personally ignored abuse allegations against prominent United States cardinal Theodore McCarrick for five years, Vigano also called on Francis to step down.

In an explosive 11-page letter, Archbishop Viganò, the former apostolic nuncio to the USA, accused Pope Francis of lifting sanctions that were placed upon the former D.C. Cardinal McCarrick during Pope Benedict's reign, going so far to making him a close adviser.

In a separate development, an open letter published on Catholic Women's Forum, which calls on the Pope to respond to allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò surrounding the sexual abuse scandal, has gained more than 44,000 signatures in just under two weeks.

Mr DiNardo has said recent accusations of top Vatican officials, including the current pope, covering up for McCarrick deserve answers.

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Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said DiNardo would meet with Francis on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace, along with Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Francis' top sex abuse adviser.

The grand jury report also came after a host of allegations against former Washington archbishop Theodore McCarrick, including that he molested a teenager.

The Archbishop of Washington has said he will travel to Rome to ask the Pope to consider accepting his resignation.

A top Vatican official earlier this week acknowledged that some allegations against McCarrick were brought to the Vatican's attention as early as 2000.

The U.S. isn't alone in digging into its past.

The past of the Catholic Church is being dug up in other countries.

The commission set up by Francis said on Sunday that the fight against abuse must be a Church priority and emphasised the importance of listening to victims.

Achieving the goals, he had said, would involve "consultation with experts, laity and clergy, as well as the Vatican".

In their conclusions, the German researchers said there was evidence that some church files were manipulated or destroyed.

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