Pope To Meet With U.S. Church Leaders Over Clergy Sex Abuse

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Pope Francis has summoned senior bishops from around the world to the Vatican in February to discuss the protection of minors from sexual abuse, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

Conservative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano sparked a firestorm last month when he claimed Francis had personally ignored abuse allegations against prominent U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick for five years. He eventually admitted to "grave errors in judgment" and moved to punish guilty bishops and remake the Chilean episcopacy, which he accused of helping to fuel a "culture of cover-up".

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

Specifically, Vigano accused Francis of rehabilitating McCarrick from canonical sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 or 2010.

"The Holy Father Francis, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, has made a decision to convene a meeting with the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the 'protection of minors, '" the Vatican press office said in a statement.

DiNardo has also said recent claims of cover-up of McCarrick's misconduct - including against top Vatican officials and the pope himself - deserve answers. "This is an excellent action, but I think it should happen quicker than six months from now".

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A delegation of USA cardinals and bishops is already heading to the Vatican Thursday to meet with Francis over 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 U.S. isn't alone in digging into its past.

Wuerl's name also appeared in a recent bombshell report by the former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, regarding Cardinal Theodore McCarrick-Wuerl's predecessor in Washington, DC-and his serial homosexual abuse of seminarians and priests.

But the US plan has looked less like a model recently, given it exempted bishops like McCarrick.

The grand jury's report focused on not just the sexual abuse - ranging from fondling to rape - committed by priests, but the role of the church's bishops, including Cardinal Wuerl when he was bishop of Pittsburgh, in moving miscreants to other parishes, in silencing or buying off victims and families, and in not reporting criminal acts to authorities.

The recently released grand jury report into sex abuse within the Catholic Church named Wuerl as someone who had allowed priests to continue their work despite allegations of abuse. Protocols for dealing with abuse in the church vary wildly from country to country.

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