A look ahead at this week's Vatican sex abuse meeting

A look ahead at this week's Vatican sex abuse meeting

Bishops at the 2015 Synod on the Family in Rome. Credit: Martha Calderon/CNA.
Bishops at the 2015 Synod on the Family in Rome. Credit: Martha Calderon/CNA.

.- The Vatican has released the schedule, speakers, and a new website for this week’s much-anticipated sex abuse summit, which will focus on episcopal transparency and accountability for the protection of minors.

The Vatican meeting Feb. 21- 24 will include nine presentations by speakers, video testimonies from sex abuse victims, working group discussions, a penitential liturgy, and a closing Mass with final remarks from Pope Francis.

The goal of the meeting is for bishops to understand the procedures regarding the abuse of minors at various levels, and to become aware of the tragedy of the suffering of the victims, according to Father Federico Lombardi, the summit’s moderator.

Each of the three days of discussion has been assigned a theme: responsibility, accountability, transparency.

Cardinal Luis Tagle, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, and Cardinal Ruben Gomez will speak on Friday on the topic of personal responsibility. Their presentations are titled, respectively, “Smell of the sheep: Knowing their pain and healing their wounds is at the heart of the shepherd’s task,” “Church as field hospital: Taking responsibility,” and “The Church in a moment of crisis - Facing conflicts and tensions and acting decisively.”

There will be time for questions and answers at the end of each presentation before the bishops break out into language groups for discussion. Each group will present a summary of their discussion to the entire assembly at the end of the day.

On day two of the summit, Cardinals Oswald Gracias and Blase Cupich will give presentations on accountability. Gracias will speak on “Collegiality: Sent together,” while Cupich has titled his talk, “Synodality: Jointly responsible.” Linda Ghisoni, a canon lawyer and the undersecretary for the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, will also give a presentation on “Communio: To work together.”

Transparency, the topic of the third day, includes talks by two women, a religious sister and a journalist. Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo will discuss “Openness,” and Mexican journalist Valentine Alazraki will give a talk on “Communication to all people.” German Cardinal Reinhard Marx will give a presentation on “Transparency in a community of believers.”

Each day of the meeting with begin and end with prayer. Pope Francis, who will be present throughout the meeting, will lead the opening prayer, and victims of clerical abuse will share their stories during each of the evening prayer times.

On Saturday evening, there will be a penitential liturgy celebrated in the Sala Regia, or state hall, of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

The meeting includes 190 Catholic leaders, mostly made up of presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world, but also including 14 patriarchs or archbishops of oriental churches, 22 superiors of religious orders, 10 heads of dicastries, and 15 other bishops who do not belong to an episcopal conference, Lombardi explained.

The meeting’s organizing committee appointed by Pope Francis consisted of Cardinal Blase Cupich, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, and Father Hans Zollner SJ. They worked  in collaboration with Gabriella Gambino and Linda Ghisoni, from the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

On Sunday, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass with the meeting participants in the Sala Regia of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge will give the homily, and Pope Francis will provide closing remarks.

The website for the Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences (PBC) meeting is http://www.pbc2019.org.

Tags: Catholic News, Clerical Abuse, Pope Francis, Sex abuse