Pope orders investigation of United States bishop accused of sexual misconduct

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

The head of the U.S. bishops conference, Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, requested an audience with the pope last month after the revelation that McCarrick had risen through the ranks even though sexual misconduct allegations against him were an open secret.

Following allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that Pope Benedict XVI had imposed sanctions on Archbishop McCarrick and that those sanctions had been ignored by Pope Francis, Cardinal DiNardo issued another statement August 27 reiterating his call "for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long".

DiNardo has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation that he groped a teenager.

"In these times, it seems like the "Great Accuser" [a reference to Satan] has been unchained and is attacking bishops", Pope Francis said. He listened very deeply from the heart.

Bransfield has faced allegations that he sexually abused teenage boys in the 1970s or early 1980s while a priest in Philadelphia.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the embattled archbishop of Washington, will ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation when he travels to the Vatican in the near future, CNN reported.

During his meeting with Francis today, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the US Bishops' Conference, said he told the Pope that sexual abuse had "lacerated" the Church in the United States.

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.

The Pope will meet the presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences from around the world in the Vatican from February 21-24, the Vatican said Wednesday.

McCarrick is accused of molesting an altar boy and having seminary students sleep in his bed with him.

DiNardo's deputy Jose Horacio Gomez and general secretary Brian Bransfield also attended the closed-door meeting.

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.

In Germany, a church study published in a magazine on Wednesday showed 1,670 clerics and priests had sexually abused 3,677 minors, mostly males, in the country between 1946 and 2014.

The recently released grand jury report into sex abuse within the Catholic Church named Wuerl as someone who had allowed priests to continue their work despite allegations of abuse.

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