Pope Francis summons bishops from all over world for sex abuse summit

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Catholic Church in United States are shaken by Grand Jury report that found 301 priests sexually abusing minors.

Pope Francis has ordered an investigation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., in connection with sexual harassment charges and accepted his resignation, the Vatican announced Thursday.

A Vatican spokeswoman said the summit would be attended by the heads of national Catholic bishops conferences between February 21-24.

The US Catholic Church has been shaken by the publication of a report on sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania and by the resignation in July of US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

DiNardo has also said recent claims McCarrick's misconduct was covered up - which have been made against top Vatican officials and the Pope himself - deserve answers.

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

It's unknown when the meeting between the Pope and Wuerl will take place. McFadden said he did not know when the meeting would occur.

Vatican City itself has no such policy, even though the Holy See promised the United Nations five years ago it was developing a "safe environment program" - including written guidelines - to protect children inside the 110-acre Vatican City State.

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.

Since the Pennsylvania report was issued last month, prosecutors in a half-dozen US states have announced plans for similar investigations.

Viganò said that Cardinal Wuerl was "well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick and the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict" and yet ignored the sanctions and allowed McCarrick "to reside at a seminary in Washington D.C".

But the USA plan has looked less like a model recently, given it exempted bishops like McCarrick.

The conclusions of a study commissioned by the Church in Germany were leaked to the press on Wednesday.

The papally appointed group of nine cardinal members, the so-called C9, has been tasked with helping advise the pope on the reform of the Vatican's organization and church governance. It is likely they will be replaced from the council due to advanced age.

McCarrick has said that he had "absolutely no recollection" of the alleged abuse of the teenager but has not commented on the other allegations against him.

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