The Pope called a meeting to protect children from sexual abuse in the Church

© AP Photo / Alessandra TarantinoПапа Roman Francis. Archival photoThe Pope called a meeting to protect children from sexual abuse in the Church© AP Photo / Alessandra Tarantino

A special meeting dedicated to the topic of protection of minors from sexual violence by Catholic clergy, will be held in February 2019 at the Vatican at the initiative of Pope Francis, told reporters on Friday the official representative of the Holy see Greg Burke.

«The February meeting is unprecedented and demonstrates that Pope Francis has made the protection of minors is a fundamental priority of the Church», — said the head of print services of Vatican.

According to him, it was an initiative aimed at protecting children worldwide and is addressed primarily to Catholic bishops who «bear a heavy responsibility for this sensitive issue.»

«The Pope wants the Church leaders had full knowledge of the devastating impact that sexual abuse by clergy has on the victims,» said Burke.

In the print service of the Holy see RIA Novosti reported that a meeting on the theme «Protection of minors in the Church» will be held in the Vatican on February 21-24. It will be attended by the presidents of the Episcopal conferences of different countries, heads of Eastern Catholic churches, prominent hierarchs of the Roman Curia, including the prefects of a number of Vatican congregations, as well as heads of major monastic orders.

According to the press, Pope Francis also appointed the organizing Committee for organizing this meeting, which included the Archbishop of Chicago cardinal blaze Cupich, Archbishop of Bombay cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna and the President of the center for the protection of minors of the Pontifical Gregorian University Hans Zollner.

The problem of pedophilia within the Catholic Church became a matter of grave concern to Pope Francis. In August, the Pope announced a special «message to the people of God,» in which he called on members of the clergy to repentance and to eradicate from the life of the Church in this shameful phenomenon, which he called «an atrocity».

In January, during the Apostolic visit to Chile, Pope Francis became the object of harsh criticism because of the scandal of pedophile priests and their high-ranking patrons. After this trip he commissioned two of his trusted prelates, including the Archbishop of Siclone, to understand all the circumstances of this scandal. Having examined the collected materials, the Pontiff said that he experienced «pain and shame». In may, the Pope took the Vatican all 34 of the bishops of Chile, which are then immediately submitted his resignation. In June, the Pope accepted the resignation of three of them, and in October were deprived of their dignity even two Chilean bishops pedophiles.

In August, the controversial report on sexual violence representatives of the clergy published the Grand jury of Pennsylvania (USA). According to this document, for almost 70 years for sexual offences against children were involved in more than 300 priests whose victims were over a thousand people.

In June the Holy see was suspended from the service of the former Archbishop of Washington cardinal Theodore Maccarrick after the accusations against hierarchs in the sexual harassment of minors was recognized as the ecclesiastical authorities were «reasonable». In July, Maccarrick was forced to submit to the Pope his resignation from the post of member of Cardinal’s Board. In October the Pope accepted the resignation of Archbishop of Washington cardinal Donald Burla, whose name was repeatedly mentioned during the resonance of a Grand jury investigation of Pennsylvania.