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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

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.