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Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Resigns As Vatican OKs Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Allegations

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VATICAN CITY (AP/KDKA) -- The Vatican has authorized an investigation into a West Virginia bishop accused of sexual harassment of adults.

The decision comes on the same day a U.S. delegation met with Pope Francis over the latest chapter in the Catholic Church's long-running sex abuse and cover-up scandal. Last month, a Pennsylvania grand jury report into sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Pittsburgh and Greensburg, was released.

The report cited 301 priests, clergy and lay teachers with credible allegations of child sexual abuse against them. There were 99 in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield, and had named a temporary administrator for his Wheeling-Charleston diocese.

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The administrator, Baltimore Bishop William Lori, said in a statement that Francis had instructed him to "conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against Bishop Bransfield."

Lori vowed to conduct "a thorough investigation." His full statement posted to the diocese's website reads:

"My primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this difficult time. I further pledge to conduct a thorough investigation in search of the truth into the troubling allegations against Bishop Bransfield and to work closely with the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the diocese until the appointment of a new bishop."

The diocese also says they have set up a hotline for anyone who wants to share information related to the investigation. The number is 1-833-272-4225.

(TM and © Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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