Vatican: Cardinals to discuss clerical sex abuse scandal

Vatican City, 19 Nov. (AKI) - The sex scandal involving thousands of children in several countries by members of the Catholic Church was expected to be high on the agenda when when Pope Benedict XVI met with over 100 cardinals in Rome on Friday.

The rare meeting was also expected to discuss the decision to invite disaffected Anglican bishops and priests ahead of the elevation of 24 new cardinals in Rome on Saturday in Benedict's third consistory.

The new cardinals include Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt.

Four prelates and two priests over the age of 80 are among the new cardinals, making them ineligible to elect a new pope.

Analysts have described the event as pre-conclave - the meeting which follows the death or abdication of a pope to elect his successor.

The consistory will also debate religious freedoms following a recent rise in attacks against Christians in Iraq and Pakistan's sentencing to death of a Christian woman for blasphemy.

It will also discuss the Vatican's row with China over its ordination of bishops without papal permission.

Vatican radio said the meeting would examine the church's response to the sex abuse scandal, amid criticism that it has not done enough to compensate victims or address the problems raised.

Benedict in an historic letter on 20 March expressed “shame and remorse” to sex abuse victims and their families for “sinful and criminal” acts committed by members of the clergy in Ireland.

The letter came after two Irish government reports uncovered widespread sex abuse in the country's schools and seminaries and evidence Catholic authorities covered this up for decades.

Thousands of allegations that child abuse by Catholic clergy was covered up emerged in several European countries, including Benedict's native Germany.

The allegations raised questions over the pope's own involvement in concealing abuse while he was archbishop of Munich and subsequently as head of the Vatican body responsible for disciplining priests.


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