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

The Latest: Sex abuse: Pope to meet Thursday with US bishops

The US Catholic Church has been shaken by the publication of a report on sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania and by the resignation in July of US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

The attorneys general of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey and New Mexico are investigating sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states.

The Vatican says Pope Francis will meet Thursday with the head of the USA bishops conference and other top US church officials over the sex abuse and cover-up scandal roiling the Catholic Church.

More recently, Francis's papacy was hit by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that he helped a top American cardinal evade sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict for molesting and harassing adult seminarians.

The outrage has also been directed at Francis and the Vatican and has fueled conservative criticism of Francis' pontificate.

Archbishop DiNardo also has said the church must answer accusations by the former Vatican ambassador to the US that Francis and other top Vatican officials have covered up for Archbishop McCarrick since 2000. They are expected to talk about clergy sexually abusing children and years of church officials covering up abuse claims against parish priests.

The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, will attend today's meeting, after saying last month he was eager to meet the pope following the scandal.

DiNardo has said that he wants the pope to approve a full investigation of the McCarrick case, and that reports of a cover-up by the Vatican and the pope himself need to be answered.

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The surprise announcement was largely dismissed as a belated damage control effort by victims' advocates.

"Where are the laity and others who might provide both new and uncomplicit voices and insights into the process?" asked Margaret Susan Thompson, associate professor of history at Syracuse University.

Remarkably, Vatican City itself has no such policy, even though the Holy See promised the United Nations five years ago that it was developing a "safe environment program" - including written guidelines - to protect children inside the 110-acre (44-hectare) Vatican City.

Wuerl's name was mentioned several times in the report for allegedly not doing enough to remove some predator priests from ministry.

The Vatican's statement on Wednesday did not set out what the agenda might look like in February.

The delegation of US bishops announced no plans to speak to the media after their audience.

The past of the Catholic Church is being dug up in other countries.

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