VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis' top advisers say the Vatican is preparing the "necessary clarifications" about accusations that the pope covered up the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced American cardinal.

Francis' nine cardinal advisers expressed their "full solidarity" Monday with the pope over the scandal, which has thrown his papacy into crisis.

The cardinals, who are meeting this week at the Vatican, issued a statement saying the Holy See "is working on formulating potential and necessary clarifications."

Francis has refused to respond to claims by the retired ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, that Francis rehabilitated ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from canonical sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Vatican has known since 2000 that McCarrick slept with seminarians. Francis removed him as cardinal following accusations he groped a teenager.

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