ROME — The Lay Centre invites its friends to join in prayer for the Feb. 21-24 meeting of Pope Francis and church leaders in the Vatican on the sex abuse crisis in the church.
The pope announced the Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church last September, after new revelations of serious cases of sexual abuse committed by clergy came to light, particularly during the summer months in the United States. One of those cases came to a resolution in the church this month with the laicization of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, found guilty of abusing his office and of sexually abusing minors in his pastoral care.
This week, the pope will meet with 190 church leaders, including presidents of episcopal conferences, leaders of the Eastern Catholic Churches, the superiors general of 12 male religious congregations and 10 female religious congregations, and members of the Council of Cardinals, Vatican dicasteries and the Roman Curia.
The four-day program will include nine speakers, including five cardinals, one religious sister and two laywomen. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, former director of the Holy See Press Office and Vatican Radio, will serve as the moderator.
“In consciousness of the facts, the meeting sees itself as a step on a long path of reappraisal, healing and transformation of the Church, …towards a deeper, more wholehearted following of Jesus Christ,” said Father Lombardi on the meeting website.
“All participants are aware of the fact that it must not remain mere words and announcements. Specific action must follow,” he said.
The themes for each of the first three days are responsibility, accountability and transparency. On the fourth day, participants will celebrate the Eucharist and the pope is expected to deliver his closing thoughts.
The speakers’ presentations will be published on the meeting website, www.pbc2019.org, which also offers a number of resources, including a timeline of the Church’s response to the crisis on the national and international levels.