Pope accepts resignation of Cardinal Donal Wuerl

Blanche Robertson
October 13, 2018

Wuerl, who has stepped down as archbishop of Washington, had announced last month that he planned to meet with the pope to discuss his resignation. In accepting his resignation now, Francis asked that Wuerl remain as the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

"However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence".

Cardinal Wuerl asked the priests "for prayers for me, for forgiveness for my errors in judgment, for my inadequacies and also for your acceptance of my contrition for any suffering I have caused, as well as the grace to find, with you, ways of healing, ways of offering fruitful guidance in this darkness".

The report criticised Cardinal Wuerl for his role in concealing the abuse. Despite accepting the resignation, Francis also praised Wuerl's "nobility" and said he was "proud" of him.

These "mistakes" led to at least two suicides committed by young men sexually abused by a priest under Wuerl when he was bishop of Pittsburgh, and the loss of innocence for scores of minors sexually exploited by priests under Wuerl, as well as the loss of faith of countless people shepherded by members of the homosexual network allowed to thrive under Wuerl. He removed some accused priests from ministry, and lobbied for some of the changes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted in 2002.

"Would you please", he told the priests, "let the faithful you serve know of my love, my commitment to do whatever is necessary to right what is wrong and my honest solidarity with you and them".

Francis ordered McCarrick to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after American Church officials said as part of a separate investigation that allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago were credible and substantiated. "I also beg forgiveness on behalf of church leadership from the victims who were again wounded when they saw these priests and bishops both moved and promoted".

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In a September 11 letter to archdiocesan priests written after a private meeting with them, Cardinal Wuerl said that he would soon meet with the Pope to discuss his future, but did not immediately state that he would ask the Holy Father to allow him to resign.

"In this way, you make clear the intent to put God's Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church", said the pope's letter. Wuerl presided over 32 accused priests during his time at the Pittsburgh diocese. Years later, according to the report, six more people alleged that they were sexually assaulted by O'Malley, in some cases after he had been reinstated.

Wuerl is accused of allowing priests he knew were abusing children to go unpunished. He joined the priesthood in 1966 and was ordained a bishop in 1986 by Pope John Paul II in 1986. The appointment generated serious conflict among Archbishop Hunthausen's supporters, and Bishop Wuerl was relieved of his responsibility in 1987.

The Catholic Church in the United States had already been shaken by the resignation of former archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick in July. Wuerl has defended his overall record in Pittsburgh.

Wuerl's archdiocese issued a series of plaudits Friday, coinciding with the Vatican announcement. He held this position until he was appointed in May 2006 to head the Archdiocese of Washington.

Wuerl had always been seen as a reformer in the area of clergy sex abuse.

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