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Pope meets with leaders of besieged US Catholic Church

Pope meets with leaders of besieged US Catholic Church

Separately, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said on its website that Mr Bransfield, 75, will be investigated over "allegations of sexual harassment of adults".

Following allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that Pope Benedict XVI had imposed sanctions on Archbishop McCarrick and that those sanctions had been ignored by Pope Francis, Cardinal DiNardo issued another statement August 27 reiterating his call "for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long".

The cardinal's "recent statements that he knew nothing about it", said Viganò, "are absolutely laughable".

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The USCCB headquarters in Washington, D.C., released a short statement more than three hours after the meeting saying the pope had "listened very deeply from the heart" as they spoke to him in "a lengthy, fruitful and good exchange" about how the USA church had been "lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse". An archbishop has accused Francis himself of turning a blind eye to the alleged misdeeds of McCarrick, who has resigned from the College of Cardinals.

In addition, embattled Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is facing calls to step down over his handling of sex-abuse cases, revealed this week he will travel to Rome to meet with the pope "very soon" to discuss his possible resignation - which the cardinal had proposed two years ago.

While Pope Francis has refused to respond to Vigano's allegations so far, the Vatican said Monday that he was "formulating the eventual and necessary clarifications".

In a letter to priests in the diocese, Wuerl acknowledged Catholics' questions about their bishops' ability to lead them to healing amid a massive clerical sex-abuse crisis, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

In a first for the Catholic Church, Pope Francis will hold a bishops' summit to deal with sexual abuse in the clergy.

DiNardo's deputy Jose Horacio Gomez and general secretary Brian Bransfield also attended the closed-door meeting.

The video clip showed the 75-year-old prelate giving a speech during which he drew attention to the recent sex abuse scandals involving the church, notably in the USA state of Pennsylvania. Victims' groups have long said that the Vatican needs to better address how to deal with prelates who cover up abuse, and how to ensure that abuse victims have a clear way to report what happens to them.

The Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield, and had named a temporary administrator for his Wheeling-Charleston diocese. Protocols for dealing with abuse in the church vary wildly from country to country.

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