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Pope receives US Church leaders to discuss clerical sex abuse crisis

14 September 2018

Some of the highest ranking Catholic leaders from the USA met with Pope Francis to discuss the priest sex abuse crisis that has rocked the church.

In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury released an explosive 900-page report detailing the abuse of more than 1,000 children by more than 300 priests going back two decades. Victims' groups have long said that the Vatican needs to better address how to deal with prelates who cover up abuse, and how to ensure that abuse victims have a clear way to report what happens to them.

The Catholic church worldwide is reeling from crises involving sexual abuse of minors, deeply damaging confidence in the church in the United States, Chile, Australia and Ireland where the scandal has hit hardest, and elsewhere.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) commented Thursday on the sexual abuse and cover-up scandal that is rocking the Catholic church. "It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange", the statement said.

The poll showed that only 48 per cent of Americans in general supported the Argentinian pontiff, and his popularity has also plummeted among US Catholics to 63 per cent from 83 per cent 18 months ago.

In the 11-page statement published on 26 August, Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, launched an unprecedented broadside by a church insider against the pope and a long list of Vatican and USA church officials.

At the same time as the top US church leaders were sitting down to speak to Pope Francis today, the Vatican announced that the pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia and has asked the archbishop of Baltimore to launch an investigation into allegations that the bishop had sexually harassed adults.

He wrote that Pope Francis instructed him during their recent encounter in Rome to come up with new ways forward for the church "as we face new revelations of the extent of the horror of the clergy abuse of children and the failures in episcopal oversight".

"We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience", DiNardo said in a statement after the meeting. But now DiNardo himself is accused of allowing a predator priest to remain in his own archdiocese in Texas. McCarrick, who has denied the accusations about the altar boy and not responded to the allegations about the seminarians, resigned from his position in July.

Archbishop Vigano's statement "brings particular focus and urgency to this examination", the cardinal's statement said.

The US bishops pictured above are, from left, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the conference, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the conference, Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and Msgr.

Der Spiegel reported that, in many cases, evidence was found by researchers to have been "destroyed or manipulated".

The revelation was the latest twist in an incredible turn of events in the US church that began with the June 20 announcement that one of the most prestigious USA cardinals, Theodore McCarrick, had been accused of groping a teenage altar boy in the 1970s.

They included the finding that priests sexually assaulted more than 3,600 children in Germany over almost seven decades.

Pope receives US Church leaders to discuss clerical sex abuse crisis