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Pope Francis summons bishops to discuss sexual abuse scandal

Pope Francis summons bishops to discuss sexual abuse scandal

The grand jury's report focused on not just the sexual abuse - ranging from fondling to rape - committed by priests, but the role of the church's bishops, including Cardinal Wuerl when he was bishop of Pittsburgh, in moving miscreants to other parishes, in silencing or buying off victims and families, and in not reporting criminal acts to authorities.

The Vatican said that a West Virginian bishop, Michael Bransfield, was being investigated for molesting adults and set up a hotline for victims.

The Feb. 21-24 meeting of the presidents of the more than 100 bishops conferences is believed to be the first of its kind, and signals a realization at the highest levels of the church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem and not restricted to the Anglo-Saxon world, as many church leaders have long tried to insist.

The summit was announced a day before Francis will meet American church leaders hit by fresh accusations over the cover-up of sex abuse by priests.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met the pope at the Vatican along with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, and Msgr.

After weeks of relative silence, Pope Francis has agreed to meet a delegation of US bishops and cardinals to discuss the Vatican response to the clergy abuse crisis.

Cardinal Di Nardo has said he wants Francis to authorize a probe of Archbishop McCarrick.

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McCarrick is accused of sexually abusing a teenager in the 1970s and young religious workers.

Viganò stated in his bombshell letter in August that the pope did "not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on" McCarrick and made him "his trusted counselor" who advised the appointment of many bishops in the United States, including Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.

A top Vatican official earlier this week acknowledged that some allegations against McCarrick were brought to the Vatican's attention as early as 2000.

"We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience", DiNardo said in a statement after the meeting.

"In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops", the pontiff said. They are to discuss the church's sexual abuse scandal in the country and the cover-up of years of abuse claims against hundreds of parish priests.

While Francis has often talked about sexual crimes as an abuse of power, some conservatives say the Pope has downplayed the role of homosexuality among priests while instead signalling a slightly more inclusive stance about gays within the church. "The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence".