PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's Roman Catholic bishop says the accusation of a sex abuse cover-up against Pope Francis needs to be investigated "in a prompt and just manner."

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano alleges Francis knew of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's sexual misconduct starting in 2013, but rehabilitated him from sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had imposed.

Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin says he doesn't have privileged information about this matter, but these "substantive" allegations warrant an investigation.

Tobin says the future of the church is at stake and he asked people to respect the pope and pray for him. He says family members don't "abandon their father, even in difficult times."

The Vatican's secretary of state said Thursday Pope Francis is "serene" despite the "bitterness and concern" in the Vatican over the accusations.