Cardinals Raymond Burke, from the US, and Walter Brandmüller, from Germany, reject that the cases of abuse are a result of “clericalism” – a group of men abusing their power, and protecting each other.
The cardinals belong to the traditionalist wing of the Church, where many believe homosexuality is a root cause of the clerical abuse, and are both outspoken critics of Pope Francis.
“The plague of the homosexual agenda has been spread within the Church, promoted by organized networks and protected by a climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence,” they said
“Sexual abuse is blamed on clericalism. But the first and primary fault of the clergy does not rest in the abuse of power but in having gone away from the truth of the Gospel.”
In the Catholic hierarchy, cardinals are second in importance only to the pontiff, and there are currently 223 of them.
Cardinal Burke has links to former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, who will reportedly be in Rome during the summit.
The cardinals accuse the Pope of failing to answer questions related to whether the Church should allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion – they are currently barred.
The issue, raised in 2016 by four cardinals including Burke and Brandmüller, has caused controversy in the Church, prompting many clerics to question the Pope’s leadership.
The mention of this point completely unrelated to Thursday’s summit, and the challenge to the Pope’s authority, shows that clerics who are unhappy with Pope Francis are growing more confident, observers say.
The summit is to be attended by the heads of all national bishops’ conferences from more than 130 countries, who will discuss the most pressing crisis facing the modern Church
This is the beginning of an attempt to address a sickness that has been poisoning the Church since at least the 1980s, leaving its moral authority in tatters, BBC religion editor Martin Bashir says.
Pope Francis must also confront the assumptions, attitudes and practices that have allowed a culture of abuse to flourish, and the extent of this challenge may prove overwhelming, our correspondent adds.
The Pope called for “decisive action” when he was elected in 2013, but critics say he has not done enough to hold to account bishops who allegedly covered up abuse.
The whole issue of where sexual orientation fits into paedophilia is both complex and confusion.
Some say paedophilia is a distinct orientation?
Others say homosexual paedophiles abuse boys and heterosexual paedophiles abuse girls?
Some say priests use children because of the lack of opportunity opportunity to have adult sex?
It seems there are more paedophiles in the priesthood than in civvy street?
I do not believe that paedophilia in the church is down to the gays.
It has to be more compplex than that.
The Vatican, with all its money, and to help itself should fund an international institute of paedophilia to study paedophia exhaustively and universally.
Whatever side we are on the TRUTH about paedophilia needs to be scientifically established to give us the tools to address it psychologically, anthropologically, theologically and socially.