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VATICAN CITY, September 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis has summoned all the presidents of the national bishops conferences to Rome to discuss the abuse crisis that is rocking the Church. The theme of the meeting is: “protection of minors.”

A press release from the Council of Cardinals, published today, says that the pontiff’s decision came after a meeting with them:

The Holy Father Francis, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, decided to convene a meeting with the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of 'the protection of minors.'

statement from the Vatican Press Office included “vulnerable adults” in the theme of the upcoming conference.

The presidents’ meeting with the Pope will be held in the Vatican from February 21-24, 2019.

The Council of Cardinals, Pope Francis’ special advisory group, has been holding meetings with the pontiff for three days. During one of the meetings, the Council discussed the issue of abuse. 

This announcement comes after the intense scrutiny of Pope Francis and other prelates mentioned in the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, which was released last month. Viganò accused Pope Francis and other bishops — among them the Council’s own Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Sean O’Malley, and Rodriguez Maradiaga — of having covered up sexual abuse and promoted clerical sexual abusers, including the now disgraced ex-cardinal Archbishop McCarrick. The former papal nuncio to the United States also called upon Pope Francis to resign. 

A day after news of the letter broke, Pope Francis told reporters that he was “not going to say a word” about the allegations. One bishop called the Pope’s response a “non-denial.” Now, however, it seems that Pope Francis is at least talking to his advisers and plans to speak to several bishops on the subject. Cardinal Di Nardo and Archbishop Jose Gomez, president and vice-president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will meet with Francis and Cardinal Seàn O’Malley tomorrow.

Yesterday the Council of Cardinals released a memo informing readers that it had expressed loyalty to the Holy Father in the wake of the former papal nuncio’s 11-page letter. 

According to the declaration, the Council of Cardinals “expressed its full solidarity with Pope Francis with regard to the events of recent weeks, aware that in the current debate the Holy See is about to make the eventual and necessary clarifications.”

Only six of the nine members of the Council of Cardinals have been able to meet with Pope Francis this week: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Seàn P. O’Malley, Oswald Gracias, Reinhard Marx, and Giuseppe Bertello. Those unable to attend are Cardinals Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Francisco Errazuriz Ossa, and George Pell. 

LifeSiteNews reported on August 27 how a source in the Vatican Curia said that the news of Archbishop Viganò “hit the Curia like an atomic bomb.”

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