Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

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

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

Francis appointed Baltimore Bishop William Lori to take over Bransfield's diocese in West Virginia temporarily.

A damning letter from the former Vatican ambassador to the United States claimed Francis and other high-ranking officials knew about the allegations against McCarrick years ago but turned a blind eye. The USCCB statement said, "We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together, identifying the most effective next steps".

According to a new poll published by the USA news channel CNN on Wednesday, Pope Francis's popularity has nosedived in the United States recently.

Last month, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano sparked a firestorm when he accused Pope Francis of covering up sexual abuse allegations against an American cardinal.

No details about the allegations were revealed yet and Bransfield's ministry, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, said they had "no idea" where he was.

DiNardo, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, requested the meeting with Pope Francis as the Catholic Church in the United States faces clergy sex abuse scandals on several fronts.

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

The bishop is commissioner for questions of sexual abuse in the Church and for questions of the protection of children and minors of the German bishops' conference.

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Just prior to their meeting, the pope accepted the resignation of West Virginia bishop Michael Bransfield and has authorized an investigation into allegations that he abused adults.

In an embarrassing coincidence, Bishop Bransfield's cousin, Father Brian Bransfield, was among those meeting the Pope.

In recent weeks, the cardinal has faced a barrage of allegations that he mishandled and covered up instances of criminal sexual abuse by priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh.

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.

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

DiNardo has said that he wants the pontiff to authorize a full-fledged investigation of the McCarrick case and the allegations of a coverup by the Vatican. He had said he wanted to discuss further action to deal with and stop cases of clerical sexual abuse in the US, including how to make bishops more accountable for their actions or punishable for their mismanagement.

The revelation was the latest twist in an incredible turn of events in the US church that began with the June 20 announcement that one of the most prestigious USA cardinals, Theodore McCarrick, had been accused of groping a teenage altar boy in the 1970s.

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