Pope Francis summons bishops to discuss sexual abuse scandal

Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves at the end of his Weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City Vatican

Francis' key cardinal advisers announced plans for the summit early next year the day before the pope meets with US church leaders embroiled in their own credibility crisis from the latest accusations in the Catholic Church's decades-long sex abuse scandal.

On the eve of the USA audience, Francis announced he was summoning the presidents of bishops conferences around the world to a February summit to discuss prevention measures and protection of minors and vulnerable adults.

DiNardo's deputy Jose Horacio Gomez and general secretary Brian Bransfield also attended the closed-door meeting.

Earlier this year, Francis admitted to "grave errors in judgment", when he at first repeatedly discredited sex abuse victims and the claims they had made against a Chilean predator priest.

In August, a grand jury report in the USA state of Pennsylvania concluded that the US Catholic Church systematically hushed up sex abuses committed by 301 priests over a period of 70 years.

Among those in the firing line following the release of the report is Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, who was accused of mishandling abuse cases while he was Bishop of Pittsburgh.

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.

But a man testifying four years ago in the Philadelphia trial of Monsignor William Lynn, the first senior U.S. Catholic Church official convicted of concealing sex abuse, accused Bransfield of misconduct.

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Cardinal DiNardo requested the meeting with Pope Francis in order to discuss the allegations in Viganò's letter which, he said in a statement, deserve answers. Lori will continue in his position as Baltimore archbishop simultaneously.

In a letter sent to priests in his diocese, Cardinal Wuerl wrote: "Our discernment here, I believe, has indicated the way forward to bring healing and a new beginning at the service of this church".

"There is something I have understood with great clarity", Francis told them.

Last month Francis called for "silence and prayer" for those involved in the scandal and criticised Irish church authorities for failing to act to sexual over abuse allegations after he met with victims in Dublin.

He added: "Elitism, clericalism fosters every form of abuse". He served in parish ministry and at Lansdale Catholic High School before he began at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., in 1980, eventually becoming its rector.

Instead, a bishop opens a humble dialogue with the Lord saying, "You chose me, and I am not much, I am a sinner".

And in 2005 McCarrick was one of three bishop-consecrators who presided at Bishop Bransfield's ordination to the episcopate in 2005.

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