A US lawyer has called on Pope Francis to take action after the release of documents allegedly showing a "classic cover up" involving the former archbishop of St Paul-Minneapolis and top Vatican officials, CBS News reports.
Attorney Jeff Anderson told reporters that documents showed that former Archbishop John Nienstedt had a "sexual interest" in convicted former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, as well as other priests.
In an agreement with the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, criminal charges against the archdiocese were dropped.
The documents were made public after current Archbishop Bernard Hebda acknowledged wrongdoing in a letter to the archdiocese.
"Today has been a day of asking for forgiveness for what we have done and what we have failed to do," he wrote.
"We failed to give priority to the safety and wellbeing of the children [Wehmeyer] hurt over his interests and those of the Archdiocese. In particular, we failed to prevent him from sexually abusing children."
Mr Anderson called on the Pope to take action against Archbishop Nienstedt, as well as archdiocesan and Vatican officials.
"Pope Francis, if your words mean anything, just do it," Mr Anderson said, citing the Pontiff's statements on holding priests and Church officials accountable. "Because if you do, it will send a message across this county and across this community and across western civilisation that this is intolerable."
Later Archbishop Nienstedt released a statement saying that he is heterosexual and has been celibate all his life.
"I have never solicited sex, improperly touched anyone, and have not used my authority to cover up, or even try to cover up, any allegation of sexual abuse," he said.
"I believe that the allegations have been made as a personal attack against me due to my unwavering stance on issues consistent with Catholic Church teaching, such as opposition to so-called same sex marriage," he added.
Letter to the faithful from Archbishop Hebda (Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis)