Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Pope calls meeting of key bishops on sexual abuse: Vatican

Pope calls meeting of key bishops on sexual abuse: Vatican

The meeting of the heads of national bishops' conferences from around the world is scheduled for February 21-24 at the Vatican, a spokeswoman said.

In an explosive 11-page letter, Archbishop Viganò, the former apostolic nuncio to the United States, 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.

McCarrick resigned in July over separate allegations - which U.S. Church officials said were "credible and substantiated" - that he had abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago.

The credibility of the USA church leadership is now in tatters over the McCarrick scandal and recent revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which found that some 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s - and that a string of bishops in six dioceses covered up for them, including the current archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USA bishops' conference, asked for the meeting after Viganò last month accused the pope of knowing for years about sexual misconduct by former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick and doing nothing about it.

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

In a letter to priests in the diocese, Wuerl mentioned a recent meeting with the Pope in Vatican City.

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The Vatican in 2011 ordered every bishops conference around the world to develop written guidelines to prevent abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, leader of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has recently come under criticism after that critical Pennsylvania Grand Jury report that said more than 300 priests in the Commonwealth had abused over thousand children, dating back to the 1940's.

One question is how early Pope Francis was advised of McCarrick's alleged misconduct and what, if anything, he did in response.

Cardinal Wuerl did not specifically say in his letter to the Pope that he would ask him to accept his resignation, which Wuerl submitted to the Vatican 3 years ago when he turned 75. He said that "sooner rather than later" he would need to make a decision about his possible resignation.

Since the Pennsylvania report was published last month, prosecutors in half a dozen other states have announced plans for similar investigations.

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

The report alleges that even though Wuerl argued that parishioners have a right to know if a priest accused of child sex abuse had been reassigned to another parish, he also reassigned priests with histories of abuse, effectively shielding them from accountability.

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