United States bishop quits as Francis launches fresh abuse probe

Pope summons bishops for summit on sex-abuse prevention

Pope summons bishops for summit on sex-abuse prevention

The administrator, Baltimore Bishop William Lori, said in a statement that Francis had instructed him to "conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against Bishop Bransfield".

The meeting had been requested by Cardinal Di Nardo following the damaging release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report in July that, since 1947, hundreds of priests in the state sexually abused more than 1,000 children - and the news that a now-demoted cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, rose through the ranks within the church, despite officials in the Vatican and in the USA knowing about sexual allegations against him dating back to 2000.

The cardinal's "recent statements that he knew nothing about it", said Viganò, "are absolutely laughable".

Pope Francis has ordered an investigation into an American bishop accused of sexually harassing adults.

"He listened very deeply from the heart", said a statement released after the meeting September 13.

Among those in the firing line following the release of the report is Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, who was accused of mishandling abuse cases while he was Bishop of Pittsburgh.

But, the case has continued to fuel criticism directed at the pope after a statement written by a high-ranking Italian Vatican official called for the Pope's resignation over the mishandling of the McCarrick case.

"The Holy Father Francis, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, has chose to convene a meeting with the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the 'protection of minors, '" announced the press office.

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

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said DiNardo would meet with Francis on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace, along with Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Francis' top sex abuse adviser.

There was no immediate indication from the Vatican as to whether the Pope would authorise a visitation into the McCarrick affair, although there is speculation that a lay-led board will be set up to investigate claims made against bishops.

Francis called for an unprecedented meeting of Catholic bishops in February to discuss the sexual abuse scandal and what can be done to keep children safe. The Vatican announced his resignation while his cousin, Rev. Brian Bransfield, was in that same meeting with the pope.

In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury released an explosive 900-page report detailing the abuse of more than 1,000 children by more than 300 priests going back two decades.

The sex abuse crisis engulfing the Pope has escalated after he was forced to investigate a U.S. bishop accused of molestation and a report said that there were thousands of victims of predatory priests in Germany.

While Pope Francis has refused to respond to Vigano's allegations so far, the Vatican said Monday that he was "formulating the eventual and necessary clarifications".

In Germany, a church study published in a magazine on Wednesday showed 1,670 clerics and priests had sexually abused 3,677 minors, mostly males, in the country between 1946 and 2014.

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