The Pope has summoned head bishops from national church organisations around the world for a summit on child abuse from February 21-24.
The prevention of child abuse is an "urgent challenge" for the Catholic Church, the Pope says, ahead of a highly-anticipated Vatican summit on the issue.
"I urge you to pray for this event, which I wanted (to hold) as a strong act of pastoral responsibility in respect to an urgent challenge of our times," Francis said during his Sunday Angelus message in St Peter's Square.
The Pope has summoned head bishops from national church organisations around the world for February 21-24 talks aimed at raising awareness and spreading best practice across the global Catholic community on combating priestly child abuse.
The Catholic Church is in the throes of a major crisis over its long-running failure to punish predator priests. Recent scandals in Chile, the United States, Australia and Germany have placed the Pope under increasing pressure.
On Saturday, the Vatican announced that a former US cardinal accused of sexual misconduct with altar boys and seminarians, Theodore McCarrick, had been expelled from priesthood, an unprecedented punishment for such a high-ranking church figure.