Pope meets with US church leaders over clergy sex abuse

Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves at the end of his Weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City Vatican

Pope summons bishops for summit on sex-abuse prevention

On Thursday, the archdiocese of Baltimore's website said the pope had ordered the archbishop to investigate allegations of sexual harassment of adults by Bransfield.

The Vatican hasn't responded to the accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, but has promised "clarifications" that presumably will come sometime after Francis' meeting Thursday with the US delegation.

The development, announc- ed just as a highly anticipated meeting between Francis and U.S. cardinals and bishops was beginning, lent a dramatic twist to the emergency gathering, called to address another scandal involving an ex-US cardinal.

But that policy has been questioned recently, given it exempted bishops like McCarrick, who according to the church's own laws, can only be judged by the pope. He listened very deeply from the heart.

The letter, originally published on August 30, calls on Francis to respond to Viganò's accusation that the pontiff was made aware of alleged sexual abuse by Cardinal McCarrick as early as 2013, and subsequently failed to act.

There were no details on the specific allegations against Bransfield and neither he nor his legal representatives could immediately be reached for comment.

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.

Mr Bransfield's ouster was announced on the day leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church were meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss a response to other sex abuse scandals.

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The Vatican said Wednesday the heads of the national Catholic bishops' conferences would meet with Francis from February 21 to 24.

In an embarrassing coincidence, Bishop Bransfield's cousin, Father Brian Bransfield, was among those meeting the Pope.

Viganò's accusations came on the heels of a Pennsylvania grand jury report which detailed over 1,000 instances of sexual abuse by 300 priests and cover-ups by bishops.

The Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield, who has been accused of sexually harassing adults.

The Vatican said Francis accepted his resignation yesterday, announcing the decision at the exact moment the U.S. delegation was arriving at the Apostolic Palace for the meeting.

Pope Francis addressed the recent sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in some controversial remarks Tuesday in his homily. Protocols for dealing with abuse in the church vary wildly from country to country.

The commission, which was funded by the German Bishops' Conference, stated that "3,677 mostly male minors" had been victims of sexual abuse by 1,670 members of the clergy.

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