BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The outrage over predator priests has triggered a new call to action by Pope Francis. In a first of its kind meeting, the Pope is ordering the world’s leading bishops to Rome.
It follows recent twin developments. Earlier this month, Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano issued a letter likening the Catholic church to a mafia, generating a conspiracy of silence that extends all the way to the top.
Vigano says he warned the Pope in 2013 that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washingto D.C. had a history of sexual abuse, but the Pope left him in place for five years, until McCarrick’s retirement this past summer.
“If the Holy Father knew about Cardinal McCarrick on the 23rd of June 2013 as Archbishop Vigano claims, and did nothing about it, then it’s serious,” said CBS News consultant Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo.
The other development happened last month, when a Pennsylvania grand jury alleged that more than 300 priests sexually abused 1,000 children over a 70 year span across six Pennsylvania diocese. That report also found Baltimore’s late Cardinal William Keeler was criminally responsible for not taking action while serving as the bishop of Harrisburg.
“It’s obvious to us the church is incapable of handling this mess. Look where we are now,” said abuse survivor Shaun Dougherty.
In response, the Pope ordered the presidents of every bishops conference around the world to meet with him in Rome next February.
The topic will be stopping the sexual abuse of children and the cover-ups that have shaken the church worldwide.