Bishop launches petition for global Catholic abuse council

Tue Jun 4, 2013 12:56pm EDT
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

(Reuters) - A retired Australian bishop urged Roman Catholics around the world on Tuesday to sign an online petition to Pope Francis to call a new global council to take effective measures to end the sexual abuse of children in the Church.

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, a former auxiliary bishop of Sydney who coordinated the Australian church's response to the sexual abuse crisis, said only a council of the world's bishops would have the power to make the changes needed.

The meeting would be akin to the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, Robinson told a news conference in Sydney, referring to the historic body that transformed the Catholic Church with modernizing reforms.

But this council would focus only on solving the abuse issue, he added.

Robinson said Francis had "given out a lot of good signals" since his surprise election in March.

The Argentinian-born pontiff, 76, has raised hopes for change among Catholics worldwide by ignoring Vatican protocol and openly addressing controversial issues, but it was not clear how he would react to an innovation like an online petition.

"The petition is not to challenge him, it's to help him, to indicate that the people are with him in really looking at these factors and changing whatever needs to be changed," Robinson said at the conference broadcast by Australia's ABC television.

FOR CHRIST'S SAKE   Continued...