Sex abuse: Pope to meet Thursday with U.S. bishops

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He said the Pope asked him to consider the best course of action "as we face new revelations of the extent of the horror of the clergy abuse of children and the failures in episcopal oversight".

In July, Francis ordered McCarrick, 88, to observe a lifetime of penance and prayer pending the outcome of a canonical trial into the groping allegation involving a teenage altar boy in the 1970s.

In Cardinal Wuerl's letter to the priests, which was obtained by LifeSiteNews and confirmed by the Archdiocese of Washington that it was sent on Tuesday, he discusses a resignation letter that he submitted in November 2015.

Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburgh for about 18 years, offered to resign almost three years ago, when he turned 75, but Francis has not yet accepted it.

"But now Francis is pope, and prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper (another old friend of McCarrick's) and McCarrick himself are back in the mix, and busier than ever", Gibson wrote.

Members of Pope Francis's worldwide Council of Cardinals expressed "full solidarity" with him in the midst of questions about his handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and said the Vatican is planning a response to allegations made against him by a former nuncio.

But he acknowledged Catholics' questions about their bishops' ability to lead them to healing amid a massive sex-abuse crisis and said he will discuss his resignation.

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Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), asked for the meeting after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano last month accused the pope of knowing for years about sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and of doing nothing about it.

"It was clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part is an essential aspect so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward", he wrote. Also involved are two officials from the United States conference, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, according to a Vatican statement.

The US conference of bishops issued what is considered the most comprehensive policy in 2002, requiring accusations of abuse to be reported to police and the permanent removal from ministry of any priest found to have abused a minor.

Cardinal Di Nardo has said he wants Francis to authorize a probe of Archbishop McCarrick.

The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that McCarrick would invite seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said DiNardo would meet with Francis on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace, along with Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Francis' top sex abuse adviser.

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