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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began —AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.