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

Pope Francis in Vatican City Italy on Sept. 5 2018

Pope Francis in Vatican City Italy on Sept. 5 2018. Grzegorz Galazka—SIPA REX Shutterstock

The Council of Cardinals, jocularly referred to as the C9 by Vatican News, was established by Pope Francis a month after his election to advise him in the governance of the Catholic Church and in the reformation of the Curia. He said that "sooner rather than later" he would need to make a decision about his possible resignation.

Wuerl has faced scrutiny and calls for his resignation after a Pennsylvania grand jury report alleged that more than 300 Catholic priests in the state committed more than 1,000 total instances of sexual abuse.

In his letter Tuesday, the cardinal wrote, "At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these bad actions and have questions about their bishop's ability to provide the necessary leadership".

The credibility of the U.S. church leadership is in tatters over the McCarrick scandal and recent revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which found that about 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s.

They are expected to discuss allegations that a former top American cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, had sexually abused seminarians and an altar boy.

McCarrick is accused of molesting an altar boy and having seminary students sleep in his bed with him.

The Vatican said on Tuesday that the US delegation would be headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and also include Francis' top sex abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

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"In relation to recent events, the Council of Cardinals pledges its full support for the Pope's work, assuring him at the same time of its adhesion and loyalty to the figure of the Pope and to his Magisterium", said the note.

The Feb. 21-24 meeting at the Vatican is believed to be the first of its kind, according to the Associated Press, and signals a realization at the highest levels of the church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem, as many church leaders have long tried to insist.

In an exclusive interview with FOX 5 after the grand jury report came out, Wuerl stated that he would not resign from his post and defended his record of dealing with predator priests while he was Pittsburgh's bishop.

Pope Francis is set to meet at the Vatican with top church officials from the US on Thursday about sexual abuse and cover-up accusations.

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.

DiNardo has also said recent claims McCarrick's misconduct was covered up - which have been made against top Vatican officials and the Pope himself - deserve answers.

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