Dramatic twists as pope meets with USA cardinals over sex abuse

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 unprecedented summit is scheduled to take place February 21-24 and comes on the heels of serious questions about Pope Francis's handling of the sexual abuse committed by Catholic bishops and priests most recently in the United States and Chile.

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.

Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

Last month, a Pennsylvania grand jury report into sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Pittsburgh and Greensburg, was released.

Vatican officials said the U.S. Catholic leaders want to discuss the demands of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican's former ambassador to the United States.

Francis' key cardinal advisers announced plans for the summit early next year the day before the pope meets with US church leaders embroiled in their own credibility crisis from the latest accusations in the Catholic Church's decades-long sex abuse scandal.

In July, McCarrick became the first cardinal to resign in nearly 100 years after American church officials said allegations that he had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.

A week later, a petition urging Pope Francis to remove Cardinal Donald Wuerl from his position as archbishop of Washington, DC had garnered some 80,000 signatures.

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Although he did not mention recent sex abuse cover-up allegations directly, the speech seemed to reference the Theodore McCarrick scandal from earlier this year.

The pope met Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who leads the US Conference of Bishops, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who advises the pope on sex abuse issues.

"In these times, it seems like the "Great Accuser" [a reference to Satan] has been unchained and is attacking bishops", Pope Francis said.

The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that the archbishop would habitually invite seminary students to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed. "He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people".

"He listened very deeply from the heart", said a statement released after the meeting September 13.

The past of the Catholic Church is being dug up in other countries.

This comes as an archbishop accuses the Pope of covering up sexual abuse allegations against an American cardinal.

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