Bishop Michael Bransfield resigns; sexual harassment investigation launched

Pope Francis asperges holy water as he celebrates a Pentecost mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sunday

Pope To Meet With U.S. Church Leaders Over Clergy Sex Abuse

Three of the nine council members were absent for the meetings: Cardinal George Pell, 77, who now is on trial in Australia on sex abuse charges; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, 85, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into the scandal of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation he groped a teenager.

The church did not provide additional information about the allegations Bransfield faces.

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. They are to discuss the church's sexual abuse scandal in the country and the cover-up of years of abuse claims against hundreds of parish priests.

The investigation and resignation were announced on the same day that Francis is meeting with a delegation of U.S. Catholic cardinals and bishops in the wake of allegations of sex abuse and coverups of wrongdoing.

He was accused of sexually abusing a teenager while working as a priest in NY in the early 1970s.

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield, and had named a temporary administrator for his Wheeling-Charleston diocese.

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"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 statement.

And yet St John Paul II made him archbishop of Washington and a cardinal in 2001, presumably because Vatican officials impressed by his fundraising prowess considered his past homosexual activity a mere "moral lapse" and not a gross abuse of power. He called the meeting "a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange".

Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a US church investigation found the allegation credible.

Last month, conservative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano claimed Pope Francis had personally ignored abuse allegations against prominent United States cardinal Theodore McCarrick for five years.

DiNardo has also said recent accusations that senior Vatican officials including the current pope had covered up for McCarrick since 2000 deserve answers.

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

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