Pope to meet with US Church leadership over abuse crisis

Pope Francis will meet the leaders of the US Catholic Church on Thursday

The petition asked the pope to remove Wuerl from his position for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of minors and paying off clergy to lie about their stories while serving as bishop of Pittsburgh.

Archbishop DiNardo also has said the church must answer accusations by the former Vatican ambassador to the USA that Francis and other top Vatican officials have covered up for Archbishop McCarrick since 2000.

Wednesday's press briefing was dedicated to a review of this week's meeting of the Council of Cardinal Advisors.

The investigation and resignation were announced on the same day that Francis is meeting with a delegation of U.S. Catholic cardinals and bishops in the wake of allegations of sex abuse and coverups of wrongdoing. Archbishop Jose Gomez, vice president of the bishops' conference, and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, the conference secretary, will also attend, according to the Vatican.

The unprecedented summit is scheduled to take place February 21-24 and comes on the heels of serious questions about Pope Francis's handling of the sexual abuse committed by Catholic bishops and priests most recently in the United States and Chile.

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 USA delegation.


In July, Francis ordered McCarrick, 88, to observe a lifetime of penance and prayer pending the outcome of a canonical trial into the groping allegation involving a teenage altar boy in the 1970s.

After the allegations against McCarrick were publicised in June, it emerged that it was apparently an open secret - including at the Vatican - and that he routinely molested seminarians and young priests and harassed them.

Viganò said that Cardinal Wuerl was "well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick and the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict" and yet ignored the sanctions and allowed McCarrick "to reside at a seminary in Washington D.C". "He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalise the people". Other clergy sex abuse scandals have occurred in countries including Germany, Argentina, Australia, Ireland and Chile.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl was named in Philadelphia's grand jury report into sex abuse in the Catholic Church as someone who had allowed priests to continue working despite allegations of sexual assault during his time as Archbishop of Pittsburgh.

DiNardo has said that he wants the pope to approve a full investigation of the McCarrick case, and that reports of a cover-up by the Vatican and the pope himself need to be answered.

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