Pope calls bishops' heads on sex abuse

Vatican meeting Feb 21-24 2019

(ANSA) - Vatican City, September 12 - Pope Francis on Wednesday called the heads of the world's bishops' conferences to a meeting in the Vatican next February on preventing clerical sex abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.
    The meeting, from February 21 to 24, will "discuss the prevention of abuse on minors and vulnerable adults", the deputy head of the Vatican press office, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, said, reading a statement from the Council of Cardinals (C9).
    The pope's move comes amid a row sparked by a former US nuncio's claim Francis covered for a former Washington archbishop accused of sexual misconduct.
    Cardinal Carlo Maria Viganò said the pope should resign for allegedly not implementing alleged sanctions on former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
    The pope has not dignified Viganò's charges with a denial but is said to be "embittered" by them.
    The Church has been roiled by abuse scandals for decades, the latest in Pennsylvania where over 1,000 minors were allegedly raped by 300 priests over the course of 70 years.
    Msgr Georg Gaenswein, the personal secretary of former pope Benedict XVI, on Tuesday compared the crisis the Catholic Church is enduring due to sex abuse scandals to the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
    "Today is September 11, the date of an apocalyptic disaster and the Church is looking at its own September 11, full of dismay, above all, following the Pennsylvania grand jury report," Gaenswein said during an encounter at the Lower House.
    "This catastrophe of ours is linked to many days and years and to countless victims".
    Gaenswein said that during his papacy, Benedict repeatedly denounced the gravity of paedophilia, calling it an attack on the Church from within.
    On Monday Pope Francis' nine top cardinal advisers, the C9, said the Holy See was preparing the "necessary clarifications" about Viganò's charges in the McCarrick affair.