VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis will meet Thursday with a delegation of U.S. cardinals and bishops over the sex abuse and cover-up scandal roiling the Catholic Church and his own papacy, the Vatican said Tuesday.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation he groped a teenager.
DiNardo has also said recent accusations that top Vatican officials - including the pope - covered up for McCarrick deserve answers.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said DiNardo would meet with Francis on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace, along with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Francis’ top sex abuse adviser. Also involved are two officials from the U.S. conference, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, according to a Vatican statement.
Francis in July ordered McCarrick, 88, to a lifetime of penance and prayer pending the outcome of a canonical trial into the groping allegation involving a teenage altar boy. After the allegation was publicized in June, it emerged that it was apparently an open secret that McCarrick routinely invited seminarians and young priests into his bed and harassed them.