Friday, 19 October, 2018

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl Following Sexual Abuse Scandals

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Ellis Copeland | 12 October, 2018, 19:14

A Vatican statement said Friday that Francis had accepted Wuerl's resignation, but named no replacement.

The U.S. cardinal's statement was published the same day Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, responded to allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, that Pope Francis knew about and ignored the allegations against then-Cardinal McCarrick.

In one case cited in the report, Wuerl - acting on a doctor's recommendation - enabled priest William O'Malley to return to active ministry as a canonical consultant in 1998 despite allegations of abuse lodged against him in the past and his own admission that he was sexually interested in adolescents.

In his letter accepting Wuerl's resignation, the Pope wrote: "You have sufficient elements to "justify" your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes". However, the Pope continued, "your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence".

Addressing Archbishop Vigano as "dear brother", Cardinal Ouellet said, "I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you can not conclude your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion".

But a grand jury report issued in August on rampant sex abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses accused Wuerl of helping to protect some child-molesting priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. Among the accusations against him is that he reassigned and reinstated some of them. An expert told CBS News at the time that the letter was highly unusual, but that a resignation would be even more so.

The shoe finally dropped for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, but it hasn't quite hit the floor yet.

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The Washington position is the most important and visible for the Church in the United States because of its proximity to national political power.

"The Church must flee from the attacks of evil, the big culprit, and with it a better sense of his guilt, mistakes and abuses committed in the present and in the past", said Francis.

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

"My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you, the people of the Church of Washington", he said.

McCarrick, 88, resigned in July after the Vatican said there were grounds to an allegation that he had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago. At the same time, a deepening polarization between conservatives and liberals in the Church has played out on social media. It permits this local Church to move forward. He discerned in Wuerl's request "the heart of the shepherd.who prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity of the Church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies who, trying to hurt the shepherd, wants nothing more than that the sheep be dispersed".

Patrick Hornbeck, chair of the theology department at Fordham University in NY, said in September that many people were "looking to Pope Francis to show a degree of leadership on this matter that he hasn't yet shown".

Cardinal Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, stated unequivocally October 7 that now-retired Pope Benedict XVI never imposed sanctions on then-Cardinal McCarrick, so it is untrue that Pope Francis "invalidated" them, as Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former nuncio to the United States, claimed.

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