Sex abuse: Pope to meet Thursday with U.S. bishops

Elias Hubbard
September 13, 2018

The announcement of Bransfield's resignation came while the pope was meeting Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, and Archbishop José Horacio Gómez of Los Angeles.

Pope Francis prays during a weekly general audience at St Peter's Square in Vatican City on November 22, 2017.

As sexual abuse scandals continue to plague the Catholic church, Pope Francis has now taken an unprecedented step towards doing something about it.

Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

In July, McCarrick became the first cardinal to resign in nearly 100 years after American Church officials said allegations that he had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.

The Vatican's former ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, released an explosive letter on August 26, accusing top Vatican and U.S. church leaders of covering up for McCarrick for many years.

DiNardo followed up his request for a full-fledged Vatican investigation into the McCarrick affair with a request for answers about allegations that a string of Vatican officials - including Francis - knew of McCarrick's misdeeds since 2000.

DiNardo asked for the meeting last month, saying he wanted the pope to support an investigation into the scandal around former Washington DC Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who resigned from the College of Cardinals in response to allegations that he once abused a teen-aged boy.

The Vatican has authorized an investigation into a US bishop accused of sexual harassment of adults. The Vatican said the guidelines should specify how bishops should tend to victims, punish offenders and keep pedophiles out of the priesthood.

While most have obliged, some conferences, particularly in Africa, have not, either citing lack of resources or other impediments.

In recent weeks, the Catholic Church, and Cardinal Wuerl in particular, have been rocked by a Pennsylvania grand-jury report on the mishandling of sex abuse charges by six of the state's dioceses and by the recent revelations of decades of serial sexual abuse and misconduct by his predecessor, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

He announced Tuesday that he will be meeting with the pope in the near future about the mandatory resignation letter he submitted when he turned 75 in 2015.

Since the Pennsylvania report was issued last month, prosecutors in a half-dozen USA states have announced plans for similar investigations. Protocols for dealing with abuse in the church vary wildly from country to country.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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