Pope Francis. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

In a lengthy and highly unusual letter to U.S. bishops on Thursday, Pope Francis wrote that the mounting child sex abuse crisis has jeopardized the Catholic Church's credibility. He lambasted church leaders for focusing "more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation.”

“This has led to a growing sense of uncertainty, distrust and vulnerability among the faithful. As we know, the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore."
— Pope Francis in the letter to U.S. bishops

Details: The 8-page letter comes as American bishops gather in Illinois for a retreat ordered by the Pope. It has a mix of spiritual inspiration and blunt criticism. Francis, who has himself faced criticism over his handling of some cases, did not issue any specific proposals.

He wrote that there’s an urgent demand for a "renewed and decisive approach to resolving conflicts," but said it "cannot be regained by issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources."

"Let us be clear: many of those things are necessary yet insufficient, since they cannot grasp and deal with reality in its complexity; ultimately, they risk reducing everything to an organizational problem."

What's next: AP reports that about 50 dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in the wake of August's shocking revelations from Pennsylvania. Over the next few months, 55 more are set to follow suit.

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Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 12,607,510 — Total deaths: 562,338 — Total recoveries — 6,948,863Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 3,228,884 — Total deaths: 134,600 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,919,421Map.
  3. Public health: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: "Please wear a mask to save lives" Fauci hasn't briefed Trump on the coronavirus pandemic in at least two months — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
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  6. World: India reimposes lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar.