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Pope Summons American Cardinals

April 15, 2002

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ROME (AP) _ Pope John Paul II has summoned American cardinals to Rome to talk about sex scandals in the U.S. church, the Vatican said Monday.

The meeting will probably take place next week, the Vatican said, without providing any details.

The summons comes just days after the top U.S. bishops were in Rome for semiannual talks with the pontiff. The sex abuse scandals dominated the discussions.

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the pope wants to help.

``He extended his hand in support to the bishops of the United States,″ Gregory said Saturday. ``The Holy See has demonstrated an extraordinary openness in understanding the particular situation that we face in the United States.″

Gregory said there was no discussion of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who has faced growing criticism since acknowledging he transferred a priest to another parish despite knowing of sexual misconduct allegations against the man.

The Roman Catholic Church in the United States and elsewhere is under fire for its handling of a series of allegations of sex abuse by priests.

The church is accused of covering up misconduct by priests, in some cases by moving known abusers from job to job. It has already paid millions in damages and faces numerous lawsuits from victims.

John Paul has spoken only briefly of the scandals and some critics have sharply faulted the Vatican for a lack of leadership in a time of deep crisis.

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