Cardinal Wuerl to discuss his possible resignation with Pope Francis

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick archbishop emeritus of Washington was sanctioned

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick archbishop emeritus of Washington was sanctioned

A delegation of USA cardinals and bishops is already heading to the Vatican Thursday to meet with Francis over accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that he rehabilitated a top American cardinal from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI for having molested and harassed adult seminarians. He said that "sooner rather than later" he would need to make a decision about his possible resignation.

A Vatican spokesman says the meeting at the Apostolic Palace on Thursday will include Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who leads the U.S. Conference of Bishops, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who advises the pope on sex abuse issues.

In a letter, Wuerl wrote - at issue is how to begin effectively a new level of healing to survivors who have suffered so much and the faithful.

The credibility of the USA church leadership is now in tatters over the McCarrick scandal and recent revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which found that some 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s - and that a string of bishops in six dioceses covered up for them, including the current archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

Pope Francis has summoned the presidents of Catholic bishops conferences worldwide to the Vatican in February to discuss how to stop clergy from sexually abusing children.

McCarrick is accused of molesting an altar boy and having seminary students sleep in his bed with him.

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Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, who retired as Archbishop of Santiago in 2010, is alleged to have participated in cover-ups of clerical sexual abuse in Chile over a period of years.

But first Pope Francis will meet with the head of the United States bishop's conference and other top USA church officials on Thursday to discuss the sex abuse scandal.

DiNardo asked for the meeting last month, saying he wanted the pope to support an investigation into the scandal around former Washington DC Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who resigned from the College of Cardinals in response to allegations that he once abused a teen-aged boy.

DiNardo has also said recent accusations that senior Vatican officials including the current pope had covered up for McCarrick since 2000 deserve answers.

The letter comes after an extraordinary meeting held Labor Day weekend at which the cardinal talked with archdiocesan priests about the best way to address the mounting criticism, spurred by the release in August of a bombshell grand jury report outlining clergy abuse in Pennsylvania.

Also involved are two officials from the conference, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield.

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