Pope calls meeting of key bishops on sexual abuse: Vatican

Pope summons bishops for summit on sex-abuse prevention

The head of the United States bishops conference, Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, requested an audience with the pope last month after the revelation that McCarrick had risen through the ranks even though sexual misconduct allegations against him were an open secret.

The Vatican hasn't responded to allegations by its former ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, that Francis effectively rehabilitated McCarrick from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI over allegations McCarrick would routinely invite seminarians to his beach house and into his bed.

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

All bishops are required to submit their resignation at the age of 75, but the Pope does not have to accept it.

The 81-year-old Jesuit Pontiff, the cardinal explained, "listened very deeply from the heart" during what was "a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange".

While Francis has often talked about sexual crimes as an abuse of power, some conservatives say the Pope has downplayed the role of homosexuality among priests while instead signalling a slightly more inclusive stance about gays within the church.

Those allegations against Bransfield are not included the statement.

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DiNardo has also said recent accusations that top Vatican officials - including the current Pope - covered up for McCarrick since 2000 deserve answers. The Vatican Press Office explained that, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, the Pope made a decision to convene the meeting, which will be tackling the theme of "Protection of minors".

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

Pope Francis poses with officials representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during a meeting at the Vatican Sept. 13.

Also attending the meeting were Archbishop Jose Gomez, vice president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, the conference's general secretary.

The announcement of the new investigation came on the same day he met with leaders of the United States Church for crunch talks on the abuse crisis.

On the eve of this meeting at the Vatican, Di Nardo was added to the list of high Catholic clerics in the USA who may have failed to prevent a priest suspected of abuse from having contact with minors.

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. The mass aims to "give voice to the pain and suffering of the survivors of clergy sexual abuse and failures in episcopal oversight, while also recognizing the pain and wound of the whole Church", he wrote.

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