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Pope Francis gives a speech at Malmo Arena. Photo: Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Wednesday vowed to rid the Catholic Church of sexual abuse, just one day after a detailed report emerged exposing how a former cardinal rose through the Roman Catholic hierarchy despite a string of misconduct allegations.

What he's saying: “I renew my closeness to victims of any abuse and commitment of the church to eradicate this evil,” Francis said Wednesday, per AP, offering his prayers to victims.

Driving the news: The explosive Vatican report, commissioned by Francis, found that Pope John Paul II ignored decades of allegations and warnings about sexual abuse by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. “McCarrick’s direct relationship with John Paul II also likely had an impact on the Pope’s decision making,” the report stated.

  • Pope Francis heard rumors of McCarrick's misconduct, but until 2017, the pope had no documentation of the allegations, per the report. “What is now known is that three of the four American bishops provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the Holy See regarding McCarrick’s sexual conduct with young adults,” the report concludes.
  • It further notes that McCarrick appealed to John Paul II’s trusted secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, insisting he was blameless.
  • “McCarrick’s denial was believed,” the report says, and the allegations subsequently dismissed.
  • The abuse was made public in 2018, and critics accused Pope Francis of a cover-up. A year later McCarrick became the highest-ranking American official to be removed for sexual abuse when the Pope Francis ousted him from priesthood.
  • The report "largely absolved the current pope," the New York Times writes.

The impact: "The report will have wide implications for a global church that has been roiled for decades over its mishandling of sexual abuse by clergy," per the Times, adding, "The church now has to reckon with the fact that one of its most beloved pontiffs is implicated is one of its most notorious scandals."

Go deeper

Pope Francis congratulates Biden in phone call

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden spoke with Pope Francis on Thursday, thanking him for "extending blessings and congratulations" and praising the pope for his leadership in "promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world," according to the Biden transition team.

The big picture: Biden will be the second-ever Catholic president, joined only by John F. Kennedy.

Dave Lawler, author of World
4 mins ago - World

Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

A group of undocumented immigrants walk toward a Customs and Border Patrol station after being apprehended. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.