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Pope Summons U.S. Cardinals to Rome

According to a top Vatican official, the eight American cardinals in charge of an archdiocese will meet with Vatican officials and the 81-year-old pontiff.

The announcement followed a meeting in Rome between the top U.S. bishops and the pope where the growing crisis was the main topic of conversation.

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the pope wanted to help.

“He extended his hand in support to the bishops of the United States,” Gregory said Saturday. “The Holy See has demonstrated an extraordinary openness in understanding the particular situation that we face in the United States.”

Gregory is also expected to attend the meeting.

The U.S. Catholic Church has been embroiled in the controversy in recent weeks as claims of sexual abuse of children by priests has widened, seriously undermining the Church’s moral authority.

The scandal broke in Boston, where Cardinal Bernard Law said last week he would not step down despite growing calls for his resignation. The Boston Globe reported that Law transferred priests known to have sexually abused children from parish to parish instead of defrocking them.

One of the priests Law is accused of protecting, John Geoghan, is currently serving a prison sentence for molesting a child. He is accused of molesting more than 130 people over a 30-year period.

Priests in Maine, New York, California, Pennsylvania and Florida have also been removed after accusations came to light.