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Vatican working to clarify claims about covered up sexual misconduct

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is preparing the “necessary clarifications” about accusations that top Vatican officials including Pope Francis covered up the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced American cardinal, Francis’ top advisers said Monday.

In a statement, Francis’ nine cardinal advisers expressed their “full solidarity” with the pope over the scandal, which has thrown his papacy into crisis.

The cardinals, who are meeting at the Vatican this week, said they were aware that “the Holy See is working on formulating the potential and necessary clarifications.”

Francis has refused to respond to the 11-page document published Aug. 26 by the retired ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.

Vigano named more than two dozen current and former Vatican officials and accused them of knowing about and covering up for ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is accused of sexually molesting and harassing minors as well as adults.

Specifically, Vigano accused Francis of rehabilitating McCarrick from canonical sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 or 2010.

The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that McCarrick slept with seminarians.

Francis removed McCarrick as cardinal in July following accusations he groped a teenage altar boy in the 1970s, a canonical crime that could result in him being defrocked.

Francis’ refusal to immediately respond to Vigano’s claims has frustrated many Catholics in the U.S., who were already outraged that McCarrick’s penchant for seminarians and young priests was apparently an open secret in some Catholic circles.

That outrage has been compounded by the revelations of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, detailing the abuse of more than 1,000 children by some 300 priests over 70 years, while bishops covered up for them.

Since the Pennsylvania report was published last month, prosecutors in a half-dozen other states have announced plans for similar investigations.

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