TIMELINE: Clergy Sexual Abuse And The Vatican Summit

TIMELINE: Clergy Sexual Abuse And The Vatican Summit

The Vatican, led by Pope Francis has called for a four-day summit to address the sexual abuse cases perpetrated by Catholic clergy last week. The unprecedented meeting of world’s top bishops and cardinals was attended by almost 200 bishops from around the world.

However, many Catholics are still unaware of why this issue has caused a loud uproar within the top leadership of the Church.

Here, we’re going to follow the events that have lead to the historic summit from where it started. Here’s a timeline of significant events that have influenced the Vatican’s decision to call a global summit to resolve the moral dilemma they are currently facing.


Back when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the new Pope as Benedict XVI, the new head of the church have ordered the dissolution of a French order that was said to have a culture of sexual abuse. The said French religious order was reportedly holding nuns as sexual slaves and priests have committed sexual assault against women and children in the congregation.

According to reports, back when he was a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) wanted to investigate the said French religious order where women are being abused, but he was blocked. Pope Francis did not mention who prevented the probe.


Perhaps one of the most controversial sexual abuse case committed by a clergy surfaced in 2010. The case was centered on Father Fernando Karadima who has had multiple allegations of sexual assault and rape. The Vatican launched an investigation against the priest and found him guilty.

However, in a shocking turn of events, the Vatican only sentenced the priest with a life of penance and prayers. The Chile government could not prosecute the priest because of the stature of limitation but has since stood on its open of his guilt.

Furthermore, three bishops in Fr. Karadima’s circle were also accused of covering the priest’s crimes. The Vatican said that there was no evidence against the three.


In 2013, the Community of St. John, a religious group founded in France in the 1970s, publicly admitted that their founder, Rev. Marie-Dominique Philippe, “sometimes made gestures contrary to chastity,” with several women under his spiritual direction, according to La Croix, a Catholic newspaper in France. This is the organization that Benedict XVI dissolved.


Bishop Juan Barros, one of the three priests who was accused of covering up Karadima’s crimes, was promoted from being a military bishop to the Diocese of Osorro.

The promotion was not taken well by critics and have protested against it. Pope Francis accused the critics of being ‘politically manipulated by leftists.’

The Papal Nuncio recommended the cancelation of Barros’ promotion, but through an embarrassing letter, Pope Francis went on to officialize the promotion.

February 6, 2019

On the flight from his historic visit to Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis has publicly acknowledged that sexual abuse is happening inside the Church. He also said that nuns are being raped and kept as sexual slaves, referring to the French Order that his predecessor dismantled back in 2005.

He also announced that he is calling a summit with the world’s top bishops and priests to resolve the problem which will happen late February.

February 7, 2019

The Vatican clarified the day after that the Pope meant ‘manipulation’ rather than slavery in his previous statement.

Vatican spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti has explained that what Pope Francis meant with his statements, that Catholic nuns are subjected to ‘sexual slavery,’ was that they are instead subjected “to ‘manipulation,’ a form of abuse of power which is also reflected in sexual abuse.”

February 20-24, 2019

The unprecedented summit took place. During the end of the summit, Pope Francis spoke in front of the attendees and called the priests who abuse children ‘tools of Satan’.

Furthermore, a top church leader has also publicly admitted that case files about sexual abuse were either not created or destroyed. This has raised the eyebrows of many critics and pressed the Vatican to come up with a concrete measure.

At the end of the summit, the attendees were able to discuss several measures to resolve the problem, but it was reported that they have not come up with a vote.

Critics accuse the Vatican of having beautiful words, without action. /apr

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