Pope Francis calls clergy abuse summit as issue imperils papacy

Pope Francis reaches out to hug Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore Mc Carrick after the Midday Prayer of the Divine with more than 300 U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew

Wuerl had served as Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese for 18 years, and, his name was mentioned prominently in the grand jury report for allegedly not doing enough to remove predator priests from ministry...while noting at the same time, that Wuerl did, at times, refuse to return priests to parishes, after they were accused of sexual abuse.

The extraordinary conclave was announced a day before the pope is to meet with leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church to discuss some of the latest scandals, including a grand jury report from Pennsylvania that found that more than 300 priests had sexually abused minors in the state over seven decades.

The meeting of Episcopal Conference presidents will be held at the Vatican from February 21 to 24, the C9 cardinals' conference that advises the pope on reform said in a statement.

Francis eventually admitted to "grave errors in judgment" and took steps to make amends, including securing offers of resignation from every active member of Chile's bishops' conference.

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.

The Church was also rocked in August by a devastating USA report on child sex abuse which accused more than 300 "predator" priests of abusing more than 1,000 minors over seven decades in the state of Pennsylvania.

DiNardo has said that he wants the pope to approve a full investigation of the McCarrick case, and that reports of a cover-up by the Vatican and the pope himself need to be answered.

In an explosive 11-page letter, Archbishop Viganò, the former apostolic nuncio to the U.S., accused Pope Francis of lifting sanctions that were placed upon the former D.C. Cardinal McCarrick during Pope Benedict's reign, going so far to making him a close adviser.

St. John Paul II made him archbishop of Washington and a cardinal in 2001, presumably because Vatican officials were impressed by his fundraising prowess and considered his past homosexual activity a mere "moral lapse" and not a gross abuse of power, it added.

Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburgh for about 18 years, offered to resign almost three years ago, when he turned 75, but Francis has not yet accepted it.

Since the Pennsylvania report was issued last month, prosecutors in six U.S. states have announced plans for similar investigations. On Wednesday, German media reported that a church-commissioned study on abuse in the German church detailed 3,677 abuses cases between 1946 and 2014, with more than half of the victims aged 13 or younger and most boys.

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