Pope Francis Accepts Cardinal Donald Wuerl's Resignation

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 13, 2018

Wuerl offered his resignation to Pope Francis weeks ago after he became subject to scrutiny for his handling of child sexual abuse while leading the Pittsburgh Diocese.

The archdiocese also announced the pope has named Cardinal Wuerl as apostolic administrator to oversee the archdiocese until a successor is named. The pope also praised Cardinal Wuerl's "nobility" in choosing to step down rather than defend his record under fire. Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon. In his first months as bishop, after the priests were charged with more than 100 counts of abuse, he formed a review board at the diocese level. In September he told priests he would be discussing the question of his resignation with Francis.

The cardinal was also accused in August by a former apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Viganò, of lying "shamelessly" in stating that he did not know about now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of seminarians. He removed some accused priests from ministry, and lobbied for some of the changes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted in 2002. By making it clear he thought Wuerl had served the church well, they said, Francis sent yet another mixed message on a topic that has shaken faith in the church's leadership around the world. In one well-known case, then-Bishop Wuerl flew to Rome in 1993 to appeal a Vatican ruling that ordered him to reinstate Father Anthony J. Cipolla.

The pope goes on to extol Wuerl's move as that of a "shepherd" who, "by widening his vision to recognize a greater good that can benefit the whole body, prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity and mission of the Church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies". The letter said Wuerl made some "mistakes" in dealing with sex abuse cases.

It has been widely believed that Cardinal Wuerl hoped to remain in his position at least until the fall meeting of the US bishops' conference in November.

However, Wuerl did indeed justify his actions as Bishop of Pittsburgh. He had been accused of sexually abusing several people, including children.

Cardinal Wuerl's episcopal career appears to be ending in as much controversy as it began when he became an auxiliary bishop in Seattle in 1986.

Wuerl denied the grand jury allegations that he protected abusive priests.

It is my hope and prayer that Our Lord Jesus will bless Cardinal Wuerl and all those in the Archdiocese of Washington with grace, peace and strength today and always.

On a personal note, I convey my gratitude to Cardinal Wuerl for the fraternal support he has extended to me from the moment I was appointed bishop and throughout the years. He has served on a number of Vatican congregations, councils and commissions, as well as numerous national and global organizations such as the Papal Foundation and various committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He'll be in charge in the DC archdiocese until the Vatican appoints a new archbishop to replace him. The archbishop of Washington was recently named in a report accusing church leaders of covering up sexual abuse. "And that was to introduce the zero tolerance and... any priest against whom there was a credible, proven accusation, that appropriate action was taken", Wuerl had said.

Wuerl's archdiocese issued a series of plaudits Friday, coinciding with the Vatican announcement.

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