The Vatican is grappling with claims that the leader of the Catholic Church helped cover up an American cardinal's misconduct. It said that the Americans briefed the pope on the "laceration" that abuse has caused and that "we look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps".
Also Thursday, Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., and ordered an investigation into accusations that Bransfield sexually harassed adults.
In an explosive 11-page letter, Archbishop Viganò, the former apostolic nuncio to the USA, accused Pope Francis of lifting sanctions that were placed upon the former D.C. Cardinal McCarrick during Pope Benedict's reign, going so far to making him a close adviser.
The Vatican announced the event after Francis met with his Council of Cardinals, his de facto cabinet. The Vatican Press Office explained that, after hearing the Council of Cardinals, the Pope chose to convene the meeting, which will be tackling the theme of "Protection of minors".
The announcement comes amid growing criticism of the Pope's role in dealing with historical child abuse within the Catholic Church, and a day before he is scheduled to meet Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He has said he plans to travel to Rome in the near future to meet with Pope Francis to discuss his resignation.
Viganò's accusations came on the heels of a Pennsylvania grand jury report which detailed over 1,000 instances of sexual abuse by 300 priests and cover-ups by bishops. As a fruit of our discernment I intend, in the very near future, to go to Rome to meet with our Holy Father about the resignation I presented almost three years ago, November 12, 2015.
Pope Francis meets U.S. Catholic Church leaders and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, during a private audience at the Vatican, Sept.13, 2018.
"There is something I have understood with great clarity", Francis told them.
Pope Francis on Wednesday called for a global summit of top Catholic officials to discuss the sexual abuse scandals plaguing the church.
He added: "Elitism, clericalism fosters every form of abuse". The first abuse is of power and conscience.
The bishop wrote in a letter to priests and people of his diocese that a "hearsay allegation" that he had engaged in improper conduct with a high school student in the 1970s "has been put to rest" by the student in question and others.
"I ask you please to include me in your prayers".
Bishop Bransfield had headed the statewide diocese since his episcopal ordination and installation in February 2005.
While no one has attacked churches with airplanes full of passengers, Gaenswein said, recent news from the U.S. "sends a message that is even more awful than the sudden collapse of all the churches of Pennsylvania together with the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington".