Pope Francis
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis meets Italian youths at the ancient Circo Massimo in Rome, Italy August 11, 2018. Reuters/Max Rossi/File Photo

Pope Francis appears to be finally doing something about the child abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church for so long. The Church’s supreme pontiff has asked the presidents of every bishops conference around the world to meet with him in the Vatican in February.

The meeting, which will take place from February 21 to 24, will be headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. They are expected to discuss among others allegations against former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is accused of sexually abusing an altar boy and seminarians, and how he had been allowed to rise through the church’s ranks despite the allegations. According to reports, the Vatican had known about McCarrick’s behaviour since 2000, but the former Pope John Paul II still made him archbishop of Washington and a cardinal the next year.

DiNardo has first called for Pope Francis to authorise a thorough investigation into McCarrick in August.

“The Holy Father Francis, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, has decided to convene a meeting with the presidents of the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church on the theme ‘protection of minors,’’ the Vatican press office said in a statement.

Last month, the pope had refused to answer allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who said that the pontiff had known about McCarrick in 2013. But instead of condemning McCarrick, the pope apparently “covered for him to the bitter end.”

The allegation came just a few days after Pope Francis has apologised to the Catholics of the world for the child sexual abuse by priests. He has acknowledged in a letter, said to be the first of its kind in the history of the Church, that the Catholic Church had failed to prevent its clerics from abusing minors. He has since promised “zero tolerance” implementation from then on, which apparently meant the Church would make perpetrators accountable for their crimes.