Pope meets with leaders of besieged US Catholic Church

Frederick Owens
September 13, 2018

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 summit was announced as Francis still works to recover from his botched handling of the sex abuse scandal in the Chilean church, sparked earlier this year when he repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest.

DiNardo said the report shows the pain of those who have been victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, and by those who protected the abusers and permitted the actions to continue.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced Thursday.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore released the news that Archbishop Lori had received a specific charge from the pope to investigate allegations against the bishop.

The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, had requested the papal audience last month following revelations that McCarrick had risen through church ranks even though the allegations of sexual misconduct were known in U.S. and Vatican circles.

Seeking a way forward, American bishops and cardinals laid the crisis bare before the pope at the Vatican on Thursday.

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"He listened very deeply from the heart", said a statement released after the meeting September 13. "This drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal - think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States - has behind it a Church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God".

A grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania recently found that more than 300 priests had abused at least 1,000 young people over a period of 70 years. "We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps".

Last month, in a letter to the world's Catholics, Francis said the church must prevent sexual abuse from being "covered up and perpetuated".

"My primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this hard time", Lori said in a Thursday statement on the diocesan website.

The Vatican is taking steps to try to assuage Catholics in the USA and elsewhere, who have increasingly expressed frustration with the slow progress stopping clerical sex abuse - and the apparent cover-ups of such cases by the church.

McCarrick has said that he had "absolutely no recollection" of the alleged abuse of the teenager but has not commented on the other allegations against him. The witness said a priest told him Bransfield was having sex with the one in the front seat.

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