Developing Story | Pope Francis meets with bishops about the abuse crisis

Pope summons bishops for summit on sex-abuse prevention

Francis appointed Baltimore Bishop William Lori to take over Bransfield's diocese in West Virginia temporarily.

The Vatican hasn't responded to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano's allegations against the pope.

The development, announc- ed just as a highly anticipated meeting between Francis and USA cardinals and bishops was beginning, lent a dramatic twist to the emergency gathering, called to address another scandal involving an ex-US cardinal.

According to a new poll published by the U.S. news channel CNN on Wednesday, Pope Francis's popularity has nosedived in the United States recently.

The Vatican is grappling with claims that the leader of the Catholic Church helped cover up an American cardinal's misconduct.

The hearsay allegations surfaced during a 2012 trial of other Catholic priests, but the alleged victim rejected them as false, and Mr Bransfield professed his innocence.

The crisis has drawn in the Pope following accusations by a retired Vatican official that Francis rehabilitated the former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, after McCarrick was sanctioned for sexually abusive behaviour with seminarians.

The head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, and two USCCB officials will also attend today's meeting.

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Wuerl has said he plans to travel to Rome in the near future to meet with Pope Francis to discuss his resignation.

Pope Francis is summoning senior Catholic bishops from around the world to a February summit to discuss the church's burgeoning clergy sex abuse scandal involving attacks on minors and years of cover-ups of allegations against parish priests.

DiNardo has said that he wants the pontiff to authorize a full-fledged investigation of the McCarrick case and the allegations of a coverup by the Vatican. In the USA, a grand jury report released last month from Pennsylvania found that more than 300 priests had sexually abused minors in the state over seven decades.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) commented Thursday on the sexual abuse and cover-up scandal that is rocking the Catholic church.

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

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the head of all USA bishops, pushed for this meeting and wants a Vatican investigation into how disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick rose to the highest levels of the church despite allegations of sexual misconduct.

He added: "Elitism, clericalism fosters every form of abuse".

In Germany, a first-of-its kind study leaked to German news outlets found that over the past seven decades, at least 3,677 children have been sexually abused by clergy members there.

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