The Pope Francisco has convened, between 21 and 24 February, the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences from around the world in an unprecedented summit to tackle the cases of sexual abuse in the bosom of the Church.
In addition, the Pontiff has asked the heads of the episcopal conferences of each country to visit victims personally of sexual abuse as a preliminary step to the preparation of this meeting.
In a letter sent to each of them, Francisco explained that the objective of visiting the victims is to learn "first hand the suffering they have endured."
For the Pope, these personal encounters are a "concrete way" to reaffirm that the survivors of clerical abuse are the "priority" in the minds of all during the February meeting, as they unite "in solidarity, humility and penance" to advance the crisis of abuse.
Chile, United States and Ireland
Francisco intends to implement a common action protocol in all the episcopal geographical areas so that the complicit silence of the highest spheres of the Catholic hierarchy regarding these cases does not recur. During 2018, reports like that of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (USA) -which revealed that more than 300 priests abused children during the last seven decades with the conniving view of the Vatican – or that of the German Catholic Church – which documented 3,677 cases of sexual abuse of children between 1946 and 2014- have accelerated this decision.
In addition, the Pope faced during 2018 another controversy related to the scandal of abuse during his visit to Chilewhen he defended the bishop Juan Barros, accused by a group of victims of covering up the priest's sexual abuse Fernando Karadima. A few days later, the Pope realized his mistake and rectified. He received three of the victims of the priest Fernando Karadima in the Vatican and opened an investigation that crystallized in the resignation in block of the Episcopal Conference of the Andean country. At the moment, it has accepted the resignation of five of them.
The Pontiff also made the fight against pedophilia one of the keys to his trip to Ireland in August to attend the World Meeting of Families. "We ask for forgiveness, the Lord maintain and increase this state of shame and compunction, and give us the strength to commit ourselves to work so that it never happens again and for justice to be done," Francisco said at a trip where he met with victims of this scourge in a country in which various scandals have been uncovered over the years.
During that trip, the ex-announcer of the Holy See in the United States, Monsignor Carlo Maria Viganò asked in a missive the Pope's resignation, whom he accused of knowing since June 2013 accusations of sexual abuse that weighed on the cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Francisco had accepted in July the resignation of the former archbishop emeritus of Washington after the US justice gave credence to various allegations of abuse and cover-up against McCarrick.
The Pope chose not to respond to Viganó's accusations by assuring that his statements "spoke for themselves." Some affirmations that generated letters of support to the Pontiff by episcopal conferences from all over the world. The cardinal Ricardo Blázquez, archbishop of Valladolid and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE), he directed a letter of "affection, closeness and support" to Francisco. "Holy Father, you are not alone," he said in the letter.
Cessation of Vatican Councilors Splashed by Abuses
In addition, at the end of this year the Vatican has formalized the exit of the circle of advisors who advise the Pope (the Vatican C-9) of the cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz and George Pell. The first is implicated in the cover-up of the denunciations of the victims of the Chilean priest Fernando Karadima. The second was recently convicted by an Australian court for sexual abuse of two minors.
The problem of sexual abuse by the clergy has been one of the main challenges of the pontificate of Francisco, who applied from the beginning a policy of 'zero tolerance' that prompted his predecessor Benedict XVI. To this end, it set up a specific commission, although it was not without controversy, such as the resignation of Irishwoman Marie Collins, one of the victims who was part of the commission when she understood that part of the Roman curia was putting obstacles to the work of this organ.
In his traditional Christmas address to the Roman Curia this year, Francis again assured that the Church will do everything necessary to bring to justice the pedophile priests while affirming that "never again will cover up or underestimate" the cases of abuse sexual activities by the clergy.