US Catholic bishops to begin prayer retreat on sexual abuse

DETROIT (AP) — U.S.-based Roman Catholic bishops are gathering at a seminary near Chicago for a weeklong retreat on the church sexual abuse scandal that organizers say will focus on prayer and spiritual reflection and not formulating policy.

The retreat, which kicks off Wednesday at the Mundelein Seminary, is being held a day after The Associated Press reported that the Vatican in November blocked U.S. bishops from taking measures to address the clergy abuse scandal.

It also serves as a prelude to a summit of the world’s bishops at the Vatican next month to forge a comprehensive response to the crisis that has riven the church.

The meetings follow two blistering reports this year from state attorneys general — in Illinois and Pennsylvania — alleging negligence by state church leaders.