Pope summons world’s top bishops to Rome

Protecting minors and vulnerable adults from abuse will be discussed at a special meeting at the Vatican next February.

Pope Francis has called all the presidents of the world’s Bishops’ Conferences to attend the meeting.

Francis called the meeting after consulting the Council of Cardinal Advisors (also called the C9) at their meeting in Rome earlier this week.

A Vatican report says the cardinals and the pope discussed abuse in the church at some length.

According to a statement from the Holy See’s Press Office, the C9 has “expressed its full solidarity with Pope Francis with regard to the events of recent weeks, aware that in the current debate the Holy See is about to make the eventual and necessary clarifications.”

Although the pope meets frequently with groups of bishops from particular countries, a pontiff has never before called all the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences to Rome.

The situation is so unprecedented that when asked during the briefing how many national bishops’ conferences there are across the globe, spokesperson García did not have an immediate answer.

US Cardinal Blase Cupich says the Pope’s call to Rome is of “utmost importance” and “indicates once again that the pope is serious about addressing sexual abuse by clergy as a top priority in the global church.

“Pope Francis has demonstrated this resolve time and again through a series of concrete actions including removing bishops and cardinals, frequently visiting with victim survivors, and admitting his own mistakes,” Cupich says.

“We are blessed to have the Holy Father’s leadership.”

Current data shows there are at least 114 national conferences of bishops in the Latin church and 21 synods, councils and assemblies of Eastern-rite Catholic Churches.

The upcoming summit has been likened to a Synod of Bishops, when Catholic bishops from around the world come to Rome for discussions on a set topic.

Massimo Faggioli, a professor of historical theology at Villanova University, says Francis’ calling of the presidents of the conferences to Rome was a “change of course” from previous pontificates.

Faggioli says there was “more emphasis on the individual bishop’s authority and less on the bishops’ conferences,” under John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

“The abuse crisis has changed this,” he says.

“This rebalancing is one of the effects of the abuse crisis on Catholic ecclesiology.”


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