Catholic bishops’ new anti-abuse hotline to be ready soon

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FILE – In this Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, file photo, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, of Los Angeles, speaks during a news conference after being elected as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops during their Fall General Assembly in Baltimore. The three-day national assembly concluded Wednesday, Nov. 13. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

BALTIMORE (AP) — A new national hotline to report sexual misconduct accusations against Catholic bishops in the U.S. could be operating by the end of February. That’s three months ahead of the deadline set by Pope Francis.

That forecast came Wednesday from the general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as the organization concluded a three-day national assembly.

The hotline will be operated by a private company. It was approved by the bishops in June in response to a new wave of damaging developments in the church’s clergy sex abuse crisis.

The closing session also featured a blistering denunciation of the Trump administration’s tough new policies for asylum seekers trying to enter the U.S. via Mexico. The head of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network assailed the policies as cruel and illegal.

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