Summit called by Pope Francis over sexual abuse scandal met with skepticism

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After years of sexual abuse scandals and allegations within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is taking action.

The Pope will meet the presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences from around the world in the Vatican from Feb. 21-24, the Vatican said Wednesday. The move comes after 900-page investigative report released last month by a grand jury in Pennsylvania that found that more than 300 priests had sexually abused more than 1,000 children in six dioceses since 1947, often while church leaders covered up the crimes.

Some local abuse survivors, like Cal Pfeiffer, said the meeting in the Vatican is a step in the right direction, but they have a few concerns. Pfeiffer was sexually abused more than 40 years ago by Fr. Louis Miller.

"It never even crossed my mind as a 10-year-old ... what was going on," Pfeiffer said. "He was convicted in Jefferson County for, I think it was 23 felonies. He was sentenced to jail, and he died there a couple of years ago."

Since then, Pfeiffer has been part of SNAP, which stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Pfeiffer has witnessed the convictions of several former catholic priests, including James Schook, Joseph Hemmerle, Stephen Pohl and William Casey in Tennessee.

But despite the convictions Pfeiffer said he remains frustrated with the Catholic Church and its decades of protecting pedophile priests.

But Pfeiffer is not the only speaking out about concerns. Pope Francis trying to act upon that bubbling frustration throughout the Catholic Church. He recently met with abuse survivors in Ireland and spoke publicly about the scandal.

"The meeting left a deep mark on me, and in many occasions, I asked the Lord for forgiveness for the scandal and the sense of betrayal caused," Pope Francis said.

The Pontiff has since summoned top catholic officials to discuss the escalating sexual abuse scandal.

"My first reaction is good, he's doing something," Preiffer said. 

But Pfeiffer said the lack of urgency is troubling.

"It should be next week," he said. "They're either too stupid to know we've got such a problem, or they just don't care."

Locally, the Archdiocese of Louisville released this statement:

"The Archdiocese of Louisville welcomes news of the synod being called by the Holy Father early next year that will deal with the terrible crisis of sexual abuse, both in the United States and around the world. This gathering will include the presidents of all the bishops' conferences.

We also have great confidence in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. We pray that the meeting these leaders are having tomorrow with Pope Francis will provide clear direction for dealing with these issues in the United States.

-Cecelia H. Price, Chief Communications Officer Archdiocese of Louisville.

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