Pope accepts resignation of USA bishop accused of sexual harassment

Pope Francis joins his hands during the Urbi et Orbi Christmas' day blessing from the main balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Monday Dec. 25 2017. (AP

The sex abuse crisis engulfing the Pope has escalated after he was forced to investigate a USA bishop accused of molestation and a report said that there were thousands of victims of predatory priests in Germany.

The Pope held an emergency summit with a delegation of American bishops at the Vatican to consider a response to a U.S. grand jury report in July that 1,000 children had been molested in Pennsylvania since the 1940s.

DiNardo's deputy Jose Horacio Gomez and general secretary Brian Bransfield also attended the closed-door meeting.

The advocacy group BishopAccountability.org says church data shows that 6,721 clerics have been "not implausibly" or "credibly" accused of sexually abusing minors in the United States between 1950 and 2016 and that there were about 18,500 victims.

In other eyebrow-raising comments on Tuesday, a top aide to both Francis and Benedict said the sex abuse scandal was such a game-changing catastrophe for the church that it amounted to its "own 9/11".

Bransfield, who headed the West Virginia diocese since February 2005, resigned from his position Thursday and is being investigated for allegations of "sexual harassment of adults", according to an Archdiocese of Baltimore statement released the same day. In the U.S., 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.

DiNardo has said that he wants the pope to approve a full investigation of the McCarrick case, and that reports of a cover-up by the Vatican and the pope himself need to be answered.

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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.

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. "We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps".

The Vatican said Francis accepted his resignation Thursday and appointed Baltimore Archbishop William Lori to take over Bransfield's Wheeling-Charleston diocese temporarily.

"I pray and hope that the church gets this right", Ryan emphasized of the situation overall, "I think Cardinal DiNardo who is the head of the USCCB...from what I can see is on the right track and I pray for him as he goes to the Vatican".

Pope Francis on Wednesday called for a global summit of top Catholic officials to discuss the sexual abuse scandals plaguing the church.

The scandal implicates the Pope himself after former United States nuncio Carlo Viganò testified Pope Francis and other high ranking churchmen covered up the serial sexual abuse of seminarians and young priests by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

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