Pope Francis orders investigation of W.Va. bishop on sexual harassment charges

As Pope Francis sat down at the Vatican Thursday with a delegation of USA bishops and cardinals to discuss how to gain ground in the sexual abuse crisis engulfing the Catholic Church, fresh scandals emerged on both sides of the Atlantic.

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.

The diocese said in a news release accompanying the bishop's letter that Rock confirmed he was the boy in the auto and that nothing inappropriate occurred.

"Criminal prosecutions, governmental investigations and journalistic exposes - stemming from courageous victims and church whistleblowers - are the best way to protect kids, expose wrongdoers and end cover-ups", Clohessy said.

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.

With the Catholic Church in crisis once again over clerical sex abuse and cover-up, Pope Francis will meet on Thursday with USA cardinals and bishops who are demanding to know how one of their own was able to climb the clerical ranks despite allegations that he slept with seminarians.

The Vatican hasn't responded to the accusations, but presumably the "clarifications" it has promised will come sometime after Francis meets with the top U.S. church leadership this week. Similar investigations are taking place in several other states.

An open question in advance of the summit is whether the Vatican will issue a universal call for bishops and religious superiors to report suspected abuse to police; now, it advises church leaders to report suspected abuse when it's required under local laws.

Some of the highest ranking Catholic leaders from the USA met with Pope Francis to discuss the priest sex abuse crisis that has rocked the church.

DiNardo has said Vigano's accusations "deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence".

No details were given on what exactly was discussed at the meeting or what the US church plans to do.

Ed McFadden, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington, said on Wednesday that Wuerl will ask the Pope to accept his resignation, CNN reported.

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.

The past of the Catholic Church is being dug up in other countries.

McCarrick is one of the highest-ranking American leaders in the Catholic Church to be removed from ministry because of sex abuse charges. At that time, he had turned 75 years old, which is the customary retirement age, according to the Washington Post. Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, according to Spiegel Online and Die Zeit, which said they obtained the report that was due to be released September 25.

Vanessa Coleman

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