Francis is walking a tight-rope to save his papacy.
The Vatican announced Pope Francis has summoned to Rome all Catholic senior bishops for a meeting on sexual abuse perpetrated by many clerics. The abuse crisis has threatened to push off the present papal administration. Francis' allies think the Argentinian's legacy and leadership need protection in the middle of accusations that the present pope has actively protected abusers. There is more than an inkling that a civil war is in the offing between Vatican reformers and the Catholic traditionalists.
The scheduled meeting will take place over four days in February. According to Rome, more than 100 bishops are to gather in Rome starting February 21. The meeting will concentrate on “the protection of minors.”
This announcement, a first in Catholic papal history, came one day prior to Francis meeting American church leaders where they will discuss sexual abuse claims and new revelations which allegedly happened in the United States.
The pope is in a sticky situation. He is painfully aware of the damage which can happen if these issues are not solved. Francis' Ireland visit was bogged down from the beginning due to decades of cover-ups and mass abuse by priests working in Irish churches. The pope suffered the ignominy of smaller-than-anticipated crowds, pushing him to make public rebukes and multiple papal apologies. He also pleads for forgiveness from the Irish people.
It’s not a sexual abuse prevention summit. They’ve know for decades how to prevent it. It’s a sexual abuse PR strategy meeting. “Pope Francis summons the world’s top bishops for sexual abuse prevention summit” https://t.co/07GDfjNUm1 #NYPassCVA #MeToo = #KidsToo @NYPassCVA pic.twitter.com/5HX21xZl7d
— Brian R Toale (@merlin_brpt) September 12, 2018
Francis did wrong during the earlier months of 2018 and consequently faced a papal crisis when he dismissed the cries of victims of a Chilean predator priest. The pope later admitted to grave judgmental “errors.” He has from then on taken a number of steps to redress his mistakes. The pope has sanctioned guilty bishops. He also remade the entire Chilean episcopacy after he accused the older one of nurturing a culture and environment of covering up abuse.
The Chilean episode was not the only one to threaten the continuance of the Francis papacy. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican Ambassador to the United States, has accused the Catholic head of rehabilitating a top U.S. cardinal of the varied sanctions imposed by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinal in question was accused of harassing and molesting adult seminarians. The Vatican is yet to respond to the Vigano accusations. However, he has promised a number of "clarifications" which will hopefully be offered post-Francis' interaction with the American delegation.