Pope Francis revealed on Friday that the organising team for the special meeting on the protection of children will held in February, due to the paedophilia scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church worldwide.
The pope’s hand-picked team are all close associates which includes; the archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna, Father Hans Zollner, US cardinal Blase Cupich and Indian cardinal Oswald Gracias.
The Archbishop (Scicluna) has spent 10 years as a Vatican prosecutor investigating cases of paedophilia among the priesthood.
Priest Zollner, a Jesuit priest, is an academic and psychotherapist who has travelled widely as part of his work in child protection. He is part of the committee
Vatican’ spokesman Greg Burke said: “The February meeting is unprecedented, and one that shows Pope Francis has made the protection of minors a fundamental priority for the Church,”
“This is about keeping children safe from harm worldwide. Pope Francis wants Church leaders to have a full understanding of the devastating impact that clerical sexual abuse has on victims.”
He went further to say that the event will run from February 21 to 24 and two women with senior positions inside the Vatican will also help organise the event and survivors of abuse will have a role.
“The meeting is primarily one for bishops – and they have much of the responsibility for this grave problem,” said Burke.
Burke spoke a day after a French priest was handed a two-year jail term for abusing children — and his superior, the former bishop of Orleans, Andre Fort who is 83-year-old, received a suspended sentence for having covered up the offences.
The meeting will attract 180 participants, including the presidents of 113 episcopal conferences from around the world.
The Catholic faith in countries worldwide from Ireland and the United States to Australia are faced with cases of scandals involving paedophile priests.