Meeting with U.S. Cardinals Aims "to Restore Security and Serenity"

A Clear Indication the Holy See Wants to Help, Says Bishop Gregory

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2002 ( The meeting of U.S. cardinals convoked by John Paul II in the wake of sex-abuse scandals aims «to restore security and serenity to families and confidence to the clergy and the faithful,» the Vatican says.

The Vatican Press Office confirmed today that the Pope called the meeting of U.S. cardinals next week to address the ecclesial response to the scandals caused by American priests.

An unsigned Vatican press statement reports that «on April 23 and 24 a working session will be held in the Vatican with the participation of cardinals of the United States of America and the prefects of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos; for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; and for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.»

The «object of the meeting,» the statement says, is to examine «the problems that have been created in the Church in the United States, following the scandals related to pederasty and the indication of directives in order to restore security and serenity to families and confidence to the clergy and the faithful.»

Meanwhile, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he hoped the meeting in Rome would launch a new dialogue in tackling the pedophile scandal that has rocked the Church, Reuters reported.

«I think there is a new appreciation and especially a new openness to be in conversation with us as the pastors of the Church in the United States,´´ Bishop Wilton Gregory said on ABC-TV´s «Good Morning America´´ show. He will attend the meeting.

«It´s [the meeting] a clear indication that the Holy See is interested and desirous to assist in the difficulties that we face,´´ added the bishop, who went to the Vatican last week to discuss the crisis.

Asked whether he thought the meeting would set new policies on how to handle pedophile cases, Bishop Gregory said: «At this particular meeting I am not certain than anything will be decided apart from a deep appreciation of the issues we are facing.´´

Though the eight cardinals attending next week´s meeting will represent archdioceses nationwide, the scandal has focused mainly on Boston, where Cardinal Bernard Law has been accused of transferring priests known to have sexually abused children from parish to parish.

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