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Catholic Church
March 19, 2019

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Catholic diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and its former bishop, Michael Bransfield, allegingthey violated the state's consumer protection laws by "knowingly" employing pedophiles.

The suit alleges the diocese and Bransfield did not conduct substantial background checks on people hired to work in Catholic schools and camps, The Washington Post reports, and then tried to "cover up and conceal arguably criminal behavior of child sexual abuse." The first incident mentioned in the suit took place in 1965, when a priest accused of sexually abusing a child was hired by the diocese and later became director of Camp Tygart despite new allegations surfacing.

Morrisey is seeking to block the diocese from "continuation of any such conduct." Because he used consumer law to file a civil lawsuit, the church's files can be viewed through legal discovery.

The diocese, which covers the whole state, released a statement Tuesday saying it "strongly and unconditionally rejects the complaint's assertion that the diocese is not wholly committed to the protection of children." Last week, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori prohibited Bransfield from conducting any priestly duties after multiple adults accused him of sexual harassment. Catherine Garcia

February 5, 2019

On Tuesday, Pope Francis for the first time publicly acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops.

"It's not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have," he told reporters while flying from the United Arab Emirates to Rome. "And I think that it's continuing because it's not like once you realize it that it stops. It continues. And for some time we've been working on it. Should we do something more? Yes. Is there the will? Yes. But it's a path that we have already begun."

In November, the International Union of Superiors General said there is a "culture of silence and secrecy" that keeps nuns from reporting their abuse, and urged them to come forward and speak with their superiors and law enforcement. Last week, the Vatican newspaper's women's magazine, Women Church World, reported that nuns impregnated by priests have had abortions or given birth to children who aren't recognized by their fathers. The pontiff said that the issue is being dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and he prays that Vatican efforts to fight abuse "go forward." Catherine Garcia

December 19, 2018

In a stark report released Wednesday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan concluded that the Catholic Church withheld the names of at least 500 priests in the state accused of sexually abusing minors.

Because of this omission, Madigan said, she does not believe the Illinois dioceses are able to investigate themselves and "will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own." In a statement, the archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, said he wants "to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse. It is the courage of victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history."

Madigan did not seek re-election, and her replacement, Kwame Raoul — who will take office in a few days — said he will continue the investigation. Catherine Garcia

September 11, 2018

Pope Francis will meet with bishops and cardinals from the United States on Thursday to discuss how to respond to accusations of clergy sex abuse, the Vatican announced Tuesday.

In August, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, requested a meeting with the pontiff. He will be joined at the Apostolic Palace by Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who advises Francis on sex abuse issues; Archbishop Jose Gomez, vice president of the bishops' conference; and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, the conference secretary.

When asking for the meeting, DiNardo said he wanted Francis to back an investigation into former Washington, D.C., Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who resigned as cardinal in July after being accused of sexually abusing a teenager. The bishops are expected to ask the pope how to move forward with a canonical trial, NPR reports. Last month, a Pennsylvania grand jury report was released that went into stark detail about sex abuse in six dioceses, and the former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, released a letter accusing Vatican officials and U.S. church leaders of covering up McCarrick's alleged abuse of male seminarians. Pope Francis has not responded to Viagno's accusation that he was part of the cover-up, and the pope's Council of Cardinals said the Vatican will soon offer "clarifications." Catherine Garcia

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