VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of a West Virginia bishop, Michael Bransfield, and on the identical time licensed a fellow bishop to analyze allegations that Bransfield sexually harassed adults,mentioned. The event, introduced simply as a extremely anticipated assembly between Francis and U.S. cardinals and bishops was getting underneath approach, lent a dramatic twist to the emergency gathering, known as to deal with one other scandal involving an ex-U.S. cardinal.
Bransfield had been implicated in 2012 in an notorious Philadelphia priestly intercourse abuse case, however he denied ever abusing anybody and claimed vindication years in the past. He continued together with his ministry till he provided to retire, as required, when he turned 75 final week.
The Vatican mentioned Francis accepted his resignation Thursday, saying the choice on the precise second that the U.S. delegation was arriving on the Apostolic Palace for the assembly with the pope.
Francis appointed Baltimore Bishop William Lori to take over Bransfield’s Wheeling-Charleston diocese quickly. Lori mentioned in a press release that Francis had additionally instructed him to “conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults in opposition to Bishop Bransfield.”
Lori arrange a hotline for potential victims to name, and vowed to conduct an intensive investigation into what he mentioned have been “troubling” claims in opposition to Bransfield.
The revelation was the most recent growth in an unimaginable flip of occasions within the U.S. that started with the June 20 announcement that one of many, had been accused of groping a teen-age altar boy within the 1970s.
Francis eliminated McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a U.S. church investigation discovered the allegation credible. After information broke of the investigation, a number of former seminarians and monks got here ahead to report that they too had been abused or harassed by McCarrick as adults.
The McCarrick affair – coupled with revelations within the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing many years of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses – has fueled outrage among the many rank-and-file trustworthy who had trusted church leaders to reform themselves after the abuse scandal first erupted in Boston in 2002.
The outrage has additionally been directed at Francis and the Vatican and has fueled conservative criticism of Francis’ preach.
The pinnacle of the U.S. Convention of Catholic Bishops, Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, had requested the papal viewers final month following revelations that McCarrick had risen by way of church ranks although the allegations of sexual misconduct have been identified in U.S. and Vatican circles. DiNardo is asking for outsiders to play a task in church investigations and for there to be new channels established to report abuse, experiences CBS Information correspondent Seth Doane.
DiNardo requested a full-fledged Vatican investigation into the McCarrick affair, and mentioned he additionally needed solutions to allegations string of Vatican officers knew of McCarrick’s misdeeds since 2000, however turned a blind eye.
The Vatican hasn’t responded to allegations by its former ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, that Francis successfully rehabilitated McCarrick from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI over allegations McCarrick would normally invite seminarians to his seashore home and into his mattress.
Francis has, nevertheless, responded to the general scandal with a sequence of initiatives aimed toward making an attempt to persuade the trustworthy that he “will get it” and is ready to take measures to place an finish to what he has known as the “tradition of cover-up” within the church.
On the eve of the U.S. viewers, Francis introduced he was summoning the presidents of bishops conferences all over the world to a February summit to debate prevention measures and safety of minors and weak adults.
The shock announcement was largely dismissed as a belated injury management effort by victims’ advocates. Church historians questioned why such an pressing downside was being scheduled for dialogue six months from now with the very bishops who’re blamed for a lot of the scandal.
“The place are the laity and others who may present each new and uncomplicit voices and insights into the method?” requested Margaret Susan Thompson, affiliate professor of historical past at Syracuse College.
Even DiNardo’s personal document on defending kids has now come into query. On the eve of his viewers with Francis, The Related Press reported that two victims in Houston had accused him of not doing sufficient to cease a priest who was arrested this week on sexual abuse costs.
The archdiocese issued a press release Wednesday confirming that each folks had come ahead to report abuse by the priest, the Rev. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, certainly one of them in 2001. The priest is now the pastor at St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Richmond whereas additionally serving because the archdiocese’s episcopal vicar for Hispanics.
The delegation of U.S. bishops introduced no plans to talk to the media after their viewers.