Pope summons bishops for February abuse prevention summit

Pope Francis leaves s at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantin

Pope Francis leaves s at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantin

Pope Francis delivers his speech during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican , Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessa

Pope Francis delivers his speech during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican , Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessa

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children.

Francis' key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, as the latest chapter in the Catholic Church's long-running sex abuse and cover-up scandal has thrown Francis' papacy into crisis.

The Feb. 21-24 meeting is believed to be the first of its kind, and signals a realization at the highest levels of the church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem and not restricted to the Anglo-Saxon world, as many church leaders have long insisted.

Francis' papacy has been jolted by accusations he rehabilitated a top American cardinal from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI for having molested and harassed adult seminarians.