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Pope Francis attends a meeting with faithful of the diocese of Rome at Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome, Italy. Photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters

Pope Francis to meet with U.S. bishops over sex abuse scandal

ROME — The Vatican says Pope Francis will meet Thursday with the head of the U.S. bishops conference and other top U.S. church officials over the sex abuse and cover-up scandal roiling the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into the scandal of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation he groped a teenager.

DiNardo has also said recent claims of cover-up of McCarrick’s misconduct — including against top Vatican officials and the pope himself — deserve answers.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said DiNardo would meet with Francis on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace, along with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Francis’ top sex abuse adviser. Also involved are two officials from the conference, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield.

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