Pope Francis Summons Bishops for Summit on Preventing Clergy Sex Abuse

14 September, 2018, 08:13 | Author: Carlos George
  • Pope Francis asperges holy water as he celebrates a Pentecost mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sunday

Last month, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano sparked a firestorm when he accused Pope Francis of covering up sexual abuse allegations against an American cardinal.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has been trying to identify those next steps for years now - and it seems like every day, disturbing new information comes out.

At the same time as the top US 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.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the embattled archbishop of Washington, will travel to the Vatican "in the very near future" to ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation, a spokesman said.

Pope Francis meets Italian youths at the ancient Circo Massimo in Rome, Italy August 11, 2018.

The head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, and two USCCB officials will also attend today's meeting.

The Vatican and US church officials announced the investigation on Thursday as the pope was meeting US Catholic church leaders to discuss a scandal that has shaken his papacy.

"The Holy Father Francis, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, has chose to convene a meeting with the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of "Protection of Minors", the Vatican said.

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In a letter to priests in the diocese, Wuerl said he will meet with Francis about the resignation he presented almost three years ago at age 75, the mandatory age for Catholic bishops to submit their retirement to the Pope.

"We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience".

In August, a grand jury report in the USA state of Pennsylvania concluded that the US Catholic Church systematically hushed up sex abuses committed by 301 priests over a period of 70 years. As required by church law Cardinal Wuerl presented his resignation as archbishop on his 75th birthday but has come under pressure to relinquish his position following the Pennsylvania report.

"There is something I have understood with great clarity", Francis told them. Other clergy sex abuse scandals have occurred in countries including Germany, Argentina, Australia, Ireland and Chile. The first abuse is of power and conscience.

Bransfield served as vice principal of an archdiocesan high school in Philadelphia and, later, was named director of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. He became a bishop in West Virginia in 2005.

Bishop Bransfield had headed the statewide diocese since his episcopal ordination and installation in February 2005.

"Four years ago, we commissioned the study, and we bishops in particular are facing up to the results".

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