Pope calls unprecedented meeting of top officials over sexual abuse

Pope calls unprecedented meeting of top officials over sexual abuse

Pope calls unprecedented meeting of top officials over sexual abuse

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.

Viganò, a former Vatican ambassador to the United States, 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. In the USA, a grand jury report released last month from Pennsylvania found that more than 300 priests had sexually abused minors in the state over seven decades.

Vatican officials said the U.S. Catholic leaders want to discuss the demands of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican's former ambassador to the United States.

Pope Francis was set to host U.S. bishops and cardinals on Thursday to discuss the Vatican's response to a new wave of devastating claims of sexual abuse by clergy.

The head of the USA bishops conference, Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, had requested the papal audience last month following revelations that McCarrick had risen through church ranks even though the allegations of sexual misconduct were known in US and Vatican circles. "It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange", DiNardo said.

A week later, a petition urging Pope Francis to remove Cardinal Donald Wuerl from his position as archbishop of Washington, DC had garnered some 80,000 signatures.

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.

It's unknown when the meeting between the Pope and Wuerl will take place.

McCarrick was removed as a cardinal by Pope Francis in July after a church investigation found recent allegations believable.

Pope Francis has ordered an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield and has accepted his resignation, church officials said Thursday. McCarrick, 88, became a cardinal in 2001 and served as archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006.

In other eyebrow-raising comments on Tuesday, a top aide to both Francis and Benedict said the sex abuse scandal was such a game-changing catastrophe for the church that it amounted to its "own 9/11". It also alleged that he concealed information when priests were reported to law enforcement and oversaw insufficient church investigations into abuse. Many cases were not brought to justice, and sometimes abuse suspects - primarily priests - were moved to other dioceses without new congregations being informed about the pastor's past, they said.

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). "But he said that Satan is at work amongst the accusers and he is victimizing the poor bishops".

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