Pope Clears Up "Inflated Expectations" of the Vatican Summit on Clergy Sex Abuse

The much discussed meeting is scheduled to be held in February.

Pope Francis downplayed what he termed “inflated expectations” applicable for a worldwide church summit on the subject of child sexual abuse scheduled in February. He explained it as a kind of educational activity tailored towards bishops. It is not, he said, a definite meeting to discuss church policies.

Many Catholic Americans have hoped that the February 21 to February 24 meeting at the Vatican will deal with abuse within the Catholic church as it is an excellent time to do so, with presidents of various episcopal conferences from approximately 100 countries converging on the Vatican. It was anticipated that the event would help to deal with bishops who do not protect vulnerable children from the hands of abusive priests. This is important as the Catholic Church has made progress in tackling abusive priests but not with bishops who are not keen or are unable to protect children.

It is now apparent that the meeting will not result in the developing of new policies but as in the exact word of Pope Francis, a “catechesis” regarding the abuse problem targeting bishops who are unable to comprehend the issue or cannot figure out the course of action as a response to any abuse. There is also a possibility the meeting may end in the establishment of a task force which will assist bishops to implement the policies of the church. Bishops are also to be instructed on the ways to deal with abuse.

Francis hopes the summit will assist bishops to understand that abuse is a serious issue and what is to be done in response. The participants will then know the action to be done by the bishop, and also the responsibilities of a metropolitan and the bishops' conference president. A metropolitan is the archbishop regarded as first among the equals present in the same geographical province.

The summit has become an important date in the present pope’s now six-year-old papacy. Abuse scandals have befallen the Catholic church all over the world. Francis now must prove that his church has the capability to sack abusive priests and also discipline the negligent bishops. The Vatican is the one solely responsible for such high expectations.