International

Pope Francis summons bishops to discuss sexual abuse scandal

Pope Francis on Wednesday called for a global summit of top Catholic officials to discuss the sexual abuse scandals plaguing the church.

The Vatican press office said Pope Francis will have presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences convene at the Vatican from Feb. 21 to Feb. 24. 

"The Holy Father Francis, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, has decided to convene a meeting with the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the 'protection of minors,'" announced the press office.

The pope's decision comes on the heels of a series of revelations about the history of sexual abuse in the church, including a 900 page report from a grand jury in Pennsylvania that exposed that more than 300 priests had sexually abused children since 1947.

A leaked copy of a report found Wednesday contains Germany's Catholic Church admitting to at least 3,766 instances of child abuse between 1946 and 2014, according to Die Zeit and Spiegel Online.

Francis has received significant criticism over his handling of abuse, including an open letter from the Catholic Women's forum that has received more than 44,000 signatures.

The petition calls for a response to allegations from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that the pope learned of sexual abuse accusations lodged against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2013 and did not take subsequent action. 

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