Pope Francis Accepts D.C. Cardinal Wuerl’s Resignation

Leroy Wright
October 12, 2018

And conservative Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican's former ambassador to Washington, claimed in an 11-page document in August that Francis and other church officials knew for years about sexual misconduct by now-former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick with seminarians in the USA yet protected him.

The head of the Vatican's bishop office rejected an ambassador's claim that Pope Francis covered up the misconduct of an American cardinal.

The Pittsburgh native spent more than 50 years climbing the ranks of the Catholic Church, building a reputation as a loyal churchman and scrupulous teacher.

The Holy Father's decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future. Of this, I am proud and thank you.

Archbishop Vigano had claimed he personally informed Pope Francis in June 2013 that in "2009 or 2010", after Cardinal McCarrick had retired, Pope Benedict imposed sanctions on him because of allegations of sexual misconduct with and sexual harassment of seminarians.

"(The Church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past", Francis said in a message on September 29.

"Your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence". He then moved to the Diocese of Washington D.C. and was eventually named a Cardinal in the Catholic Church. "Your resignation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church".

"Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon", he said.

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Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, is repeatedly cited as one of the church leaders who helped to cover up the scandal, and he has faced numerous calls for his resignation, including from his own clergy.

Like many people in the church, Cardinal Ouellet asked: "How is it possible that this man of the church, whose incoherence has now been revealed, was promoted many times, and was nominated to such a high position as archbishop of Washington and cardinal?"

That could mean Wuerl's role as a "chief conduit" between the U.S. Church and Francis will stay in place, and his influence with the pope is unlikely to be diminished - if anything, since his retirement may afford him more time in Rome, it might even grow.

A Pennsylvania grand jury report released in late July was also critical of how Wuerl handled the alleged abuse of more than a thousand children by 301 Catholic priests.

I am aware that this request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care.

In his letter to Wuerl, the pope said he recognized that Wuerl wanted to step down for the greater good of the Church.

"I think that is the moment where we need to put on the agenda not only the question of prevention but also of accountability", Archbishop Scicluna told reporters. He divested him from the dignity of Cardinal when a credible accusation of the abuse of a minor became evident.

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