A leaked copy of a report found Wednesday contains Germany's Catholic Church admitting to at least 3,766 instances of child abuse between 1946 and 2014, according to Die Zeit and Spiegel Online.
Pope Francis has ordered an investigation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., in connection with sexual harassment charges and accepted his resignation, the Vatican announced Thursday.
It will take place in Rome on the 21-24 February 2019.
The decision comes on the same day a USA delegation met with the pope over the latest chapter in the Catholic Church's long-running sex abuse and cover-up scandal.
Last month, a Pennsylvania grand jury report into sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Pittsburgh and Greensburg, was released.
The head of the USA delegation that met with Pope Francis over the growing sex abuse and cover-up scandal says the US church and Vatican will work together to determine the next steps.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano sparked a firestorm last month when he claimed Francis had personally ignored abuse allegations against prominent United States cardinal Theodore McCarrick for 5 years.
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The Vatican hasn't responded to the accusations, but presumably the "clarifications" it has promised will come sometime after Francis meets with the top U.S. church leadership this week.
The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, will attend today's meeting, after saying last month he was eager to meet the pope following the scandal. The U.S. bishops who will meet with Francis on Thursday are expected to press the pope on how that trial would proceed.
In July, McCarrick became the first cardinal to resign in nearly 100 years after American church officials said allegations that he had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago were credible and substantiated. Two dioceses also had announced allegations of inappropriate contact between Archbishop McCarrick and seminarians, resulting in settlements totaling more than $100,000.
A top Vatican official earlier this week acknowledged that some allegations against McCarrick were brought to the Vatican's attention as early as 2000. They are to discuss the church's sexual abuse scandal in the country and the cover-up of years of abuse claims against hundreds of parish priests.
In a statement afterwards, DiNardo said they told the pope of "our situation in the United States - how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse".