Developing Story | Pope Francis meets with bishops about the abuse crisis

Pope summons bishops for summit on sex-abuse prevention

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, private secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, on Tuesday described sexual abuse against minors by clergy as the Church's "own 9/11".

Pope Francis poses with officials representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during a meeting at the Vatican Sept. 13.

But first Pope Francis will meet with the head of the U.S. bishop's conference and other top United States church officials on Thursday to discuss the sex abuse scandal.

The decision to investigate Bishop Michael Bransfield comes amid an abuse crisis in the US Church that is now focusing on misconduct by bishops.

Some two dozen dioceses participated in the study, commissioned by the Catholic Church bishops' conference in Germany.

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.

Viganò, a former Vatican ambassador to the USA, said he told the Pope about the allegations five years ago, but the pontiff did nothing about it. Viganò subsequently urged the Pope to resign. He denies the allegation, which the church said it learned of in 2007.

The revelation was the latest twist in an incredible turn of events in the US church that began with the June 20 announcement that one of the most prestigious USA cardinals, Theodore McCarrick, had been accused of groping a teenage altar boy in the 1970s.

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The pope instructed Baltimore Archbishop William Lori to conduct an investigation into Bishop Bransfield and appointed him as the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia.

"My primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this hard time".

"We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States - how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse", the head of the delegation, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, said in a statement.

The petition calls for a response to allegations from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that the pope learned of sexual abuse accusations lodged against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2013 and did not take subsequent action.

The pontiff has so far refused to respond to the allegations.

McCarrick has said that he had "absolutely no recollection" of the alleged abuse of the teenager but has not commented on the other allegations against him.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, will seek Pope Francis' acceptance of his resignation at the Vatican soon as footage of the District of Columbia prelate being heckled by a parishioner emerged on CNN. "The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence".

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