Byline: David Hencke, Mark Conrad and Keir Mudie
COPS are probing an alleged widespread child abuse cover-up in the Catholic Church in the UK.
A bishop is believed to be under investigation by officers from Operation Fernbridge - set up by the Metropolitan Police to look into historical cases of paedophilia.
The detectives are examining claims that the prelate protected priests who were sexually abusing youngsters, investigative website Exaro and the Sunday People can reveal today.
Officers are also thought to be probing other areas of the Catholic church that may have been involved in a large-scale cover-up of paedophilia.
The dramatic new move comes after the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal triggered massive Met investigations into allegations of offences by celebrities and politicians.
The Vatican has been rocked by major inquiries into claims of abuse in Ireland, the US, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.
But this is the first time the Catholic church in the UK, which has its HQ at Westminster Cathedral, has faced such a probe - although there have been isolated cases at individual churches or schools.
A spokesman for the Church in England and Wales said: "I am not aware of any generic police investigation into sexual abuse linked to the Catholic church in the UK.
"Similarly, I am not aware of any investigation into a particular bishop. However, were there to be an investigation, clearly we would co-operate."
Pope Francis called for "decisive action" on paedophile priests soon after his election last month. …