The call for a meeting by the Pope comes at a time when the church needed to take action against allegations on sexual abuse by church bishops. Many see it as long overdue and the call at this time is perfectly in order.
Pope Francis has summoned the Catholic Church’s top bishops all over the world to the Vatican City for a four-day long summit on the clerical sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed the Catholic Church and the papacy.
The Vatican has officially announced recently that the pope will be having a meeting with the presidents of bishop conferences slated for February 2019.
The announcement came just a day to the pope’s scheduled meeting with the US church leaders to look into the new discoveries and claims of sexual molestation and cover-ups by the church authorities which also linked him to the scandal. This is the first time this type of summoning will be called by the Pope.
The gathering which is expected to involve over 100 bishops is scheduled for February 21- 24. It will focus on the protection of minors.
Supporters of the pope’s leadership are seeing beyond just the sexual allegation but are also looking at upholding the legacy of the papacy amid allegations that the pope was involved in the cover-up as well.
This is a strong allegation. For the fact that it is coming from a former ambassador of the church makes it an important one to not ignore
There is rift already brewing between the Vatican reformers and the traditionalists on the conduct of the Pope about the sexual accusations.
Other Occasions That Would Have Moved The Pope’s Decision
The pope’s visit to Ireland in August should spark some concern to the papacy. The Irish church is alive to the many years of abuse in the region and was loud about it during the pope’s mass.
It was characterized by low turnout, public rebukes, and chanting, calling for the pope to apologize and beg for forgiveness.
The Pope’s action sparked an outrage January when victims of a Chilean priest who is known for his widespread abuse were not given credit.
The priest later apologized and went to agree with haven made grave errors in his judgment. As a follow-up, the hierarchy of the Chilean church was overhauled.
Another hit on Pope Francis’ credibility was a letter released by a retired Vatican ambassador to the US, Carlo Maria Viagano. He bypassed all pontifical protocol to accuse the pope of protecting Theodore McCarrick from continuing his punishment as handed down by the previous pope. McCarrick was suspended by Pope Benedict on the accusation of harassing and molesting seminarians.
Viagano’s 11-page publication has accused the pope of covering up for a man who he claims his corrupt and asks that the pope should resign.
Specifically, an excerpt of the letter reads:
“In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example to cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”
Before this time, the leadership of the church in the US was not in any way at rest over the Pennsylvania grand jury report that showed 300 priests had abused over 1,000 students since 1940.
The details also alleged a line of bishops in six dioceses covered up for them.
A similar situation was recorded in Germany. The German media reported a church-commissioned report on sexual abuse in the German church.
It revealed 3, 677 cases of sexual abuse from 1946 to 2014. This is mostly on boys. It also has it that one in every six cases was a rape issue. About 1, 670 priests were involved, according to reports.
Finally, after about three decades of denying sexual abuse in the church and linking some to cultural and regional issues, the Vatican is finally coerced into making a way forward to handle the sexual allegations that have brought a dent to the church’s image over the past years.