Pope summons bishops for summit on sex-abuse prevention

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

During his homily at Mass on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis blamed the devil for the sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the Catholic church to its core.

More recently, Francis's papacy was hit by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that he helped a top American cardinal evade sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict for molesting and harassing adult seminarians.

The planned Vatican meeting is believed to be unprecedented, indicating that the church recognises that clergy sex abuse is a global problem - potentially even in non-Western countries where the church maintains strong social power and cases have not come to light in great number.

Bransfield came as the pontiff began a closed-door meeting in his private study with four USA bishops and cardinals to address the church's wave of sexual abuse crises, including a cover-up scandal that even implicated the pope himself.

As Pope Francis sat down at the Vatican Thursday with a delegation of US bishops and cardinals to discuss how to gain ground in the sexual abuse crisis engulfing the Catholic Church, fresh scandals emerged on both sides of the Atlantic.

The pope's acceptance of his resignation was announced just as a four-member USA delegation of bishops - including Bransfield's cousin, Monsignor Brian Bransfield - was meeting with Francis about the impact of recent revelations of sex abuse by priests and cover-ups by the church that have implicated Francis himself. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said DiNardo and O'Malley would meet with Francis on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace.

Archbishop Vigano has called on Pope Francis to resign because of reports that the pope knew and failed to act on accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Washington.

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

Earlier today, Francis met in Rome with leaders of the American Catholic Church on the issue of sexual abuse among their own ranks.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and has instructed Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore to conduct an investigation into allegations that Bishop Bransfield sexually harassed adults.

"He got up and said Satan is at work in the church, which I agree with that part", Matt said.

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.

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston spokesman Tim Bishop said Thursday he couldn't answer questions about Bransfield's whereabouts or whether he has an attorney.

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