Pope Francis Authorizes Investigation of West Virginia Bishop Over Sexual Harassment Claims

Sep 14, 2018, 20:43
Pope Francis Authorizes Investigation of West Virginia Bishop Over Sexual Harassment Claims

A US bishop accused of molesting adults resigned on Thursday, in the latest sex abuse scandal to rock the Catholic Church.

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 despite allegations of sexual misconduct that were known in U.S. and Vatican circles.

A Vatican spokesperson said the meeting of the heads of national Catholic bishops conferences would take place February 21-24. The bishop is commissioner for questions of sexual abuse in the Church and for questions of the protection of children and minors of the German bishops' conference.

In a separate development, an open letter published on Catholic Women's Forum, which calls on the Pope to respond to allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò surrounding the sexual abuse scandal, has gained more than 44,000 signatures in just under two weeks.

The men told the pope how the US Church "is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse".

The Americans have called on Francis to launch a Vatican-led investigation into how Theodore McCarrick, a former U.S. cardinal, climbed the ranks, even as rumours swirled about his behaviour.

The Vatican said the guidelines should specify how bishops should tend to victims, punish offenders and keep pedophiles out of the priesthood.

A contingent of American bishops is meeting on Thursday with the Pope in Rome, but Wuerl is not among them, according to the Vatican.

While most conferences obliged, some have not.

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

Remarkably, Vatican City itself has no such policy, even though the Holy See promised the United Nations five years ago that it was developing a "safe environment program" - including written guidelines - to protect children inside the 110-acre (44-hectare) Vatican City.

The U.S. isn't alone in digging into its past.

But the US plan has looked less like a model recently, given it exempted bishops like McCarrick.

In the United States, a Grand Jury has found that 301 priests in the state of Pennsylvania sexually abused minors over a similar period.

Among those in the firing line following the release of the report is Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, who was accused of mishandling abuse cases while he was Bishop of Pittsburgh.

The past of the Catholic Church is being dug up in other countries. He is also the oldest member of the C9, at 85 years old.

The research team also stated that they "did not have access to the original files of the Catholic Church" but that all "archives and files of the dioceses had been investigated only by diocesan personnel or by law firms hired by the dioceses".

The official findings are not set for release until September 25.

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