Published: Thu, September 13, 2018

Catholic bishop in West Virginia resigns amid sexual harassment investigation

Catholic bishop in West Virginia resigns amid sexual harassment investigation

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

Michael Bransfield submitted his resignation as bishop of Wheeling-Charleston Diocese upon turning 75 last week - and 75 is the age at which bishops are required to offer to step down.

The archdiocese did not immediately offer details about the allegations.

In the United States alone, the Church spent about $4 billion in compensation and other costs related to the priest sex abuse crisis between 1950 and 2015, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

In the United States, a Grand Jury has found that 301 priests in the state of Pennsylvania sexually abused minors over a similar period.

McCarrick resigned in July over separate allegations - which U.S. Church officials said were "credible and substantiated" - that he had abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago.

"My primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this hard time".

The announcement came at the end of a three-day meeting of the "C-9", a group of nine cardinals from around the world who members meet about four times a year to advise the pope.

An open letter published on Catholic Women's Forum, which calls on the Pope to respond to allegations by Viganò surrounding the sexual abuse scandal, has gained more than 44,000 signatures in just under two weeks. He called the meeting "a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange".

The Vatican is preparing to issue a response to an explosive dossier of allegations that Pope Francis covered up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick's sexual abuse of priests and seminarians.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USA bishops' conference, asked for the meeting after Viganò last month accused the pope of knowing for years about sexual misconduct by former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick and doing nothing about it.

Francis removed him as cardinal following accusations he groped a teenager. Archbishop Viganò writes that the Vatican was aware of McCarrick allegations in 2000, but despite that was named Archbishop of Washington and made a cardinal in 2001. DiNardo has said lay people should be involved in the investigation as well.

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