Pope To Meet With U.S. Church Leaders Over Clergy Sex Abuse

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McCarrick was removed as a cardinal in July after a credible accusation he groped a teenager.

The archbishop of Washington plans to meet with the pope in Rome to discuss the possibility of resigning as he confronts accusations that he mismanaged and concealed alleged sex abuse within the church, he wrote to local priests.

Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburg for some 18 years, offered to resign almost three years ago when he turned 75 but Francis hasn't accepted it.

In the note, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged that many Catholics in the archdiocese "have questions about their bishop's ability to provide the necessary leadership".

A decision about his future "is an essential aspect so that this archdiocesan church we all love can move forward", Wuerl said, according to CNN.

The credibility of the USA church leadership is now in tatters over the McCarrick scandal and recent revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which found that some 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s - and that a string of bishops in six dioceses covered up for them, including the current archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

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The letter comes as Francis prepares for a Thursday meeting with a delegation of U.S. church leaders - including the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, and Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Vatican's top adviser on clergy sex abuse - to discuss the best way to handle the clergy abuse scandal.

McCarrick resigned in July over separate allegations - which U.S. Church officials said were "credible and substantiated" - that he had abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago. A Vatican statement said the meeting also will include Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield.

The grand jury's report focused on not just the sexual abuse - ranging from fondling to rape - committed by priests, but the role of the church's bishops, including Cardinal Wuerl when he was bishop of Pittsburgh, in moving miscreants to other parishes, in silencing or buying off victims and families, and in not reporting criminal acts to authorities.

"Francis, who has put the Vatican back on the geopolitical stage, knows that when he needs a savvy back channel operator he can turn to McCarrick", he said.

The Vatican has known since 2000 that McCarrick slept with seminarians.

The 21-24 February meeting of the presidents of the more than 100 bishops conferences is believed to be the first of its kind, and signals a realisation at the highest levels of the church that clerical sexual abuse is a global problem and not restricted to the Anglo-Saxon world, as many church leaders have long tried to portray.

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