Sex abuse: Pope to meet Thursday with USA bishops

Vatican appears ready to respond to claims pope covered up sexual misconduct

The statement came at the end of the first day of a three-day meeting of the "C-9", a group of nine cardinals from around the world who meet with the pope at the Vatican several times a year to advise him on church matters. Many have called for Wuerl's resignation since the report was released.

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

Wuerl's letter, however, seemed to indicate he believes his retirement is somewhat likely; he closed by anticipating "a new beginning" for the church he serves. He continued - It is clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part, is an essential aspect so that the church can move forward.

The USCCB Executive Committee, Cardinal DiNardo had said, met recently and established three goals: "an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints".

In recent weeks, the Catholic Church, and Cardinal Wuerl in particular, have been rocked by a Pennsylvania grand-jury report on the mishandling of sex abuse charges by six of the state's dioceses and by the recent revelations of decades of serial sexual abuse and misconduct by his predecessor, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano sparked a firestorm last month when he claimed Francis had personally ignored abuse allegations against prominent USA cardinal Theodore McCarrick for 5 years.

Pope Francis is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children - evidence he realizes the scandal is global and inaction threatens to undermine his legacy.

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

Also involved are two officials from the conference, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield.

The calling of the February meeting comes in the wake of fresh sexual abuse scandals in a number of countries, including the United States, Chile and Australia.

In this Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010 file photo, Pope Francis, left, talks with Papal Foundation Chairman Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washinghton, D.C., during a meeting with members of the Papal Foundation at the Vatican.In this Sunday, April 24, 2011 file photo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, sprinkles Holy Water during Easter Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Washington.

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