The blows seem to land nearly every day: Bishops are accused, investigations are ordered, resignations are demanded, damning documents are leaked. The sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church keeps spiraling through the church hierarchy, threatening the standing of Pope Francis.
On Thursday, an American bishop in West Virginia was brought down by allegations of sexual misconduct, even as a delegation of American church leaders met urgently with the pope behind closed doors over whether the Vatican had ignored past warnings of abuse by a prominent cardinal.
“This is the long expected reckoning of leadership,” said Christopher Bellitto, a professor of history at Kean University in New Jersey who closely follows developments in the church. “It’s been postponed so long, it was finally going to blow up. It blows up in 2018, when it happens to be Francis sitting there.”