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Sexual abuse: Pope summons bishops

Sexual abuse: Pope summons bishops
Pope Francis
Vatican City, Sep 12 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/12/2018 11:42:15 AM IST

Pope Francis is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children — evidence that he realizes the scandal is global and that inaction threatens to undermine his legacy, AP reported.

Francis’ key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with U.S. church leaders who have been deeply discredited by the latest accusations in the Catholic Church’s decades-long sex abuse and cover-up scandal.

The Feb 21-24 meeting at the Vatican is believed to be the first of its kind, and signals a realization at the highest levels of the church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem and not restricted to the Anglo-Saxon world, as many church leaders have long tried to insist.

Earlier this year, Francis faced what was then the worst crisis of his papacy when he repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest. He eventually admitted to “grave errors in judgment” and has taken steps to make amends, sanction guilty bishops and remake the Chilean episcopacy.

More recently, Francis’ papacy has been jolted by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that he rehabilitated a top American cardinal from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI for having molested and harassed adult seminarians.

The Vatican hasn’t responded to the accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, but has promised “clarifications” that presumably will come sometime after Francis’ meeting Thursday with the US delegation.

The Vatican said Tuesday the meeting would be headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and also include Francis’ top sex abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Di Nardo has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation that he groped a teenager.

The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that McCarrick would invite seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed.

St John Paul II made him archbishop of Washington and a cardinal in 2001, presumably because Vatican officials were impressed by his fundraising prowess and considered his past homosexual activity a mere “moral lapse” and not a gross abuse of power.

DiNardo has also said recent accusations that top Vatican officials - including the current pope - covered up for McCarrick since 2000 deserve answers.

3,677 sex abuse cases in German Catholic Church

A report on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany details 3,677 abuses cases by clergy between 1946 and 2014, two leading German media outlets said Wednesday, Fox news reported.

Spiegel Online and Die Zeit said the report they obtained — commissioned by the German Bishops Conference and researched by three universities — concludes that more than half of the victims were 13 or younger and most were boys. Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, both weeklies reported. Some 969 abuse victims were altar boys, Die Zeit wrote.

The report also says that the actual numbers of victims was likely much higher, according to the research by experts from the Universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim.

The German Bishops Conference had no immediate comment but said it was preparing a response. It had wanted to present the report on Sept. 25, both magazines reported.

Die Zeit also reported that researchers were not allowed to look at the original church files but had to provide questionnaires to the dioceses, which then provided the information.

In their conclusions, the researchers write that there was evidence that some files were manipulated or destroyed, many cases were not brought to justice, and that sometimes abuse suspects — primarily priests — were simply moved to other dioceses without the congregations being informed about their past.

The Catholic Church has been struggling with sex abuse by its clergy for a long time.

In 2010, the Catholic Church in Germany was roiled by a sex abuse scandal triggered by the head of a Jesuit school in Berlin who went public about decades-long sexual abuse of high school students by clergy. Following that, a whole wave of victims who were sexually abused by members of the Catholic Church spoke out across the country, with the scandal soon spreading beyond Germany and rocking the Catholic Church globally.

An investigation in the United States last month, found rampant sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by about 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this week, the Vatican said it is preparing the “necessary clarifications” about accusations that top Vatican officials including Pope Francis covered up the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced American ex-cardinal.

 

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