Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Resigns As Vatican OKs Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Allegations

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2018

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. The hotline number is 1-833-272-4225.

The 350-page report, which German Cardinal Reinhard Marx had meant to make public on September 25 during the bishops' autumn plenary assembly in Fulda, was leaked Wednesday by two prominent German media outlets: Der Spiegel and Die Zeit.

"I guess he's saying that the people who are accusing the bishops are Satan, and also the faithful Catholics who are demanding answers, I guess we are also in league with Satan".

Wuerl has been accused of covering up child sex abuse in the church, and of knowing about allegations of molestation leveled at his predecessor, Theodore McCarrick (pictured).

The official findings are not set for release until September 25. A church report there found more than 1,600 priests and clerics had abused more than 3,600 minors in a almost 70-year period.

A contingent of American bishops is meeting on Thursday with the Pope in Rome, but Wuerl is not among them, according to the Vatican.

In a statement afterwards, DiNardo said they told the pope of "our situation in the United States - how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse".

The crisis in the United States flared up this summer following the news that Archbishop McCarrick had been credibly accused of abusing a minor - which came alongside allegations involving seminarians - and a damning Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania documenting child sexual abuse by 301 priests over a 70 year period across six dioceses.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said he wants the Pope to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation he groped a teenager.

Pope Francis is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children - evidence he realizes the scandal is global and inaction threatens to undermine his legacy.

At the same time as the top USA church leaders were sitting down to speak to Pope Francis today, the Vatican announced that the pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia and has asked the archbishop of Baltimore to launch an investigation into allegations that the bishop had sexually harassed adults.

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", Lori said in the release.

Those allegations, as well as an explosive letter from a formal papal diplomat, have raised serious questions among senior church leaders about why McCarrick was allowed to rise through the church's ranks, as well as who knew about the accusations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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