In a statement Nov. 23, Papal spokesman Greg Burke called the February meeting "unprecedented," and said that it "shows Pope Francis has made the protection of minors a fundamental priority for the Church."
The gathering is about "keeping children safe from harm worldwide," he said, adding that the pope wants the Church's leaders to "to have a full understanding of the devastating impact that clerical sexual abuse has on victims."
Burke said that the meeting is for bishops, who, he said, have the most responsibility for the "grave problem" of abuse; but lay men and women who are experts in the area of abuse will also be providing input and will be able to help address what should be done "to ensure transparency and accountability."
Among those who will be helping with preparations for the February meeting are members of the PCPM and the lay undersecretaries of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life: Dr. Gabriella Gambino and Dr. Linda Ghisoni.
Some number of victims of abuse by clergy will also be helping with preparations.
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In addition to Pope Francis, other Vatican representation at the meeting will be the superiors of the Secretariat of State, and the prefects of seven congregations, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation of Bishops, and the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.
Representatives of men's and women's religious orders will also be present.