Pope meets with leaders of besieged US Catholic Church

Pope summons bishops for summit on sex-abuse prevention

Also on Wednesday, it was revealed that the German Catholic Church will admit to "at least" 3,766 cases of child sex abuse by the clergy between 1946 and 2014 in an upcoming report that leaked to local media outlets Die Zeit and Spiegel Online.

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

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

Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a US church investigation found the allegation credible.

DiNardo has also said recent accusations that top Vatican officials - including the current Pope - covered up for McCarrick since 2000 deserve answers.

The investigation and resignation were announced on the same day that Francis is meeting with a delegation of U.S. Catholic cardinals and bishops in the wake of allegations of sex abuse and coverups of wrongdoing.

On Wednesday, the pontiff called for a meeting of all the heads of Catholic bishops' conferences worldwide at the Vatican next February to discuss the issue of the "protection of minors". J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference.

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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 US church had been "lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse". "We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps".

In a 16 August letter the cardinal wrote that the USA bishops' executive committee had agreed on a three-pronged response to the crisis which included an apostolic visitation "into the questions surrounding" Archbishop McCarrick, the opening of "new and confidential channels" for reporting complaints about bishops' misconduct and establishing more effective ways to resolve future complaints.

The Cardinal said the Pope had asked him to work out what he wanted to do "as we face new revelations of the extent of the horror of the clergy abuse of children and the failures in episcopal oversight". McCarrick, who has denied the accusations about the altar boy and not responded to the allegations about the seminarians, resigned from his position in July.

The Vatican is grappling with claims that the leader of the Catholic Church helped cover up an American cardinal's misconduct. Pictured from left are Msgr.

Bransfield served as vice principal of an archdiocesan high school in Philadelphia and, later, was named director of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. He became a bishop in West Virginia in 2005.

The men told the pope how the US Church "is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse".

The Vatican in 2011 ordered every bishops conference around the world to develop written guidelines to prevent abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

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