Catholic sex abuse scandal widens after US bishop quits

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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.

'At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much... and have questions about their bishop's ability to provide the necessary leadership, ' he wrote.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former top Vatican official who accused Pope Francis of knowing about sexual misconduct by a cardinal for years and doing nothing about it - denies the accusations are driven by a vendetta.

The controversy has engulfed Cardinal O'Malley, who apologized for how his office mishandled a 2015 letter from a priest with concerns about McCarrick.

The head of the Catholic church said the devil "had it in" for bishops "in order to scandalise the people".

The Vatican and US Church officials announced the investigation on Thursday as the pope was meeting US Catholic Church leaders to discuss a scandal that has shaken his papacy.

The pope's acceptance of his resignation was announced just as a four-member US delegation of bishops - including Bransfield's cousin, Monsignor Brian Bransfield - was meeting with Francis about the impact of recent revelations of sex abuse by priests and cover-ups by the church that have implicated Francis himself.

Pope Francis has summoned top Catholic officials to discuss the escalating sexual abuse scandal that has plagued the church.

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.

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The news comes just two days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin extended an invitation to Chinese officials to restart talks. His comment tempered cautious optimism among investors over the US government's proposal for another round of talks with Beijing.

The church is facing abuse scandals in the United States, Chile, Australia and Germany, among other places.

Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburg for some 18 years, offered to resign almost three years ago when he turned 75 but Francis hasn't accepted it.

Francis removed him as cardinal following accusations he groped a teenager. "I further pledge to conduct a thorough investigation in search of the truth into the troubling allegations against Bishop Bransfield".

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

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore was named apostolic administrator of the diocese.

While the cardinal did not want to discuss the specifics of the private meeting beyond a statement released by the USA bishops, he did describe the encounter as "very, very fruitful".

The archdiocese issued a statement Wednesday confirming that both people had come forward to report abuse by the priest, the Rev. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, including one of them in 2001.

"There's absolutely no reason to think any good will come of such a meeting", given the church's decades of failure to reform, David Clohessy, former director of the victims' advocacy group SNAP, said.