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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The United States Council of Catholic Bishops gathered in Baltimore to take on the church abuse scandal, but in a letter to their assembly, Pope Francis ordered that their reforms be put on hold.

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“We remain committed to the specific program of greater episcopal accountability that we will discuss during these days. Consultations will take place, votes will not be done this week, but we will prepare ourselves to move forward for action,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the Archbishop of the Galveston-Houston Diocese.

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Instead, there will be inaction.

Pope Francis wants to wait for a worldwide conference of bishops in February to discuss clergy sexual abuse.

For the time being, bishops are tabling a vote on a proposal to institute a code of conduct for bishops, and another to organize an independent investigation under lay leadership into the bishops’ response to the abuse scandal.

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A controversial proposal among many in the church hierarchy reluctant to cede oversight to the laity and urge caution.

But in a statement, BishopAcountablity.org said:

“This bizarrely self-contradictory behavior looks like something else, outside the Vatican bubble. It is a crushing blow for survivors and yet another stumbling block for good Catholics everywhere. Once again, in its own terms, the Vatican is causing scandal.”

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But though Pope Francis is delaying action, he admits fault in dealing with sex abuse and vows to address it forcefully.