West Virginia Bishop Resigns, Pope Orders Probe of Harassment Claims

Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves at the end of his Weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City Vatican

On Thursday, the archdiocese of Baltimore's website said the pope had ordered the archbishop to investigate allegations of sexual harassment of adults by Bransfield.

Pope Francis met with U.S. bishops and cardinals on Thursday (Sep 13) to discuss the Vatican's response to a new wave of devastating claims of sexual abuse by clergy.

In his August 16 statement, Cardinal DiNardo said that the USCCB Executive Committee had established three goals: "an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints". He listened very deeply from the heart. Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago even claimed that people were criticizing the way the pope was silent on allegations of abuse and cover-up because he was "Latino".

Bransfield has faced allegations that he sexually abused teenage boys in the 1970s or early 1980s while a priest in Philadelphia.

In the 11-page statement published on 26 August, Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, launched an unprecedented broadside by a church insider against the pope and a long list of Vatican and USA church officials.

In a letter to priests, the 77-year-old cardinal wrote that he plans to meet with the Pope to discuss stepping down.

Francis's key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with USA church leaders who have been deeply discredited by the latest accusations in the Catholic Church's decades-long sex abuse and coverup scandal.

Francis removed him in July when the allegations were deemed credible, and since then, several other former seminarians and priests have come forward saying they were also abused or harassed by McCarrick.

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Pope Francis has summoned senior bishops from around the world to the Vatican in February to discuss the protection of minors from sexual abuse, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The leaders of the US bishops' conference said they shared with Pope Francis how the church in the United States has been "lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse".

DiNardo's deputy Jose Horacio Gomez and general secretary Brian Bransfield also attended the closed-door meeting.

The McCarrick affair - coupled with revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses, including Allentown - has fueled outrage among the rank-and-file faithful who had trusted church leaders to reform themselves after the abuse scandal first erupted in Boston in 2002. Protocols for dealing with abuse in the church vary wildly from country to country.

He added: "Elitism, clericalism fosters every form of abuse".

In the United States alone, the church spent about $4bn in compensation and other costs related to the priest sex abuse crisis between 1950 and 2015, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

A leaked report commissioned by the church alleged that one in 20 Catholic clergy in Germany...

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