Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Resigns As Vatican OKs Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Allegations

Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Resigns As Vatican OKs Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Allegations

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.

Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of a West Virginia bishop, Michael Bransfield, and at the same time authorized a fellow bishop to investigate allegations that Bransfield sexually harassed adults, Vatican officials said.

The meeting will take place in the Vatican from the 21st to the 24th of February 2019.

The decision comes on the same day a USA delegation met with the pope over the latest chapter in the Catholic Church's long-running sex abuse and cover-up scandal.

In August, a grand jury report in the USA state of Pennsylvania concluded that the US Catholic Church systematically hushed up sex abuses committed by 301 priests over a period of 70 years.

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The Vatican said that among those meeting the pope would be the head of the USA bishops' conference, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of the Galveston-Houston area, and Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston.

The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that McCarrick invited seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed, but was made a cardinal anyway.

Bishops, he said, should be men of prayer, and should know they were chosen by God and keep close to their flock.

DiNardo has said Vigano's accusations "deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence".

Among the clergymen targeted by Vigano, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington and formerly a bishop in Pennsylvania, is accused of covering up the sexual abuse in that state.

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Wuerl submitted his resignation three years ago, but stayed on working at the Vatican's request. On Wednesday, German media reported that a church-commissioned study on abuse in the German church detailed 3,677 abuses cases between 1946 and 2014, with more than half of the victims aged 13 or younger and most boys.

DiNardo is heading the US delegation at Thursday's audience.

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

Abuse scandals have also shaken the Catholic Church in Australia, Chile and Ireland, among other countries.

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. The news outlets said the report was due to be released September 25 and they obtained it in advance.

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Although he did not mention recent sex abuse cover-up allegations directly, the speech seemed to reference the Theodore McCarrick scandal from earlier this year.

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