In wake of sex abuse crisis, archbishop asks Pope to cancel youth conference

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PHILADELPHIA — The archbishop of Philadelphia has asked Pope Francis to cancel a bishops’ conference focusing on youth in the wake of the child sex abuse crisis roiling the Catholic Church.

A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed Saturday that Archbishop Charles Chaput made the request by letter, but he declined further comment, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Youth Synod, which would include bishops from the around the world, has been planned for two years and its website says it is to be focused on “young people, the faith and vocational discernment.” An international panel of young people is expected to join the council of bishops for the event.

“I have written the Holy Father and called on him to cancel the forthcoming synod on young people,” Chaput said at a conference Thursday at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, according to LifeSite News, a conservative Catholic website. “Right now, the bishops would have absolutely no credibility in addressing this topic.”

Instead, Chaput asked that the synod be refocused on the life of bishops.

A nearly 900-page grand jury report released last month said more than 300 Catholic priests abused at least a thousand children over the past seven decades in six Pennsylvania dioceses, and senior figures in the church hierarchy systematically covered up complaints.

A description of the purpose of the Oct. 3-28 synod at the Vatican begins “Taking care of young people is not an optional task for the Church, but an integral part of her vocation and mission in history.”

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