Friday, 19 October, 2018

Pope Francis accepts resignation from scandal-plagued Cardinal Wuerl

Cardinal Donald Wuerl has resigned Cardinal Donald Wuerl has resigned
Ellis Copeland | 13 October, 2018, 21:26

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who was at the center of the Pennsylvania grand jury report in August which accused more than 300 Catholic priests of the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children.

In August, the state of Pennsylvania released a grand jury report connected to abuse in the Catholic Church.

"I think about the damage that has occurred to the Church, so this is bigger than any specific case or reference in that grand jury report", said Patricia McGuire, the president of Trinity Washington University, a Catholic university in Washington D.C.On her blog and in a recent interview with OSV, McGuire said Cardinal Wuerl should resign because his credibility as an archbishop has been compromised. Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, has said in a letter to his diocese from July that he has "zero tolerance for sexual abuse" and that any victims should come forward "without fear of retribution, no matter the status of the perpetrator".

Wuerl had submitted his letter of resignation to Francis after he turned 75, almost three years ago, but Francis chose to keep the cardinal on staff. Francis, however, did not accept his resignation at that time.

"However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence". The pope indicated his full support for the outgoing archbishop, saying Wuerl made his request to stand down - amid mounting pressure - based, "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 trusted to your care". Rodgers formerly worked as a local newspaper reporter in Pittsburgh who covered the religion beat and Bishop Wuerl's 18-year tenure in the Steel City. But the pope's gentle words and lack of condemnation angered those who feel top Catholic leaders continue to shirk responsibility for the global crisis.

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

Cardinal Wuerl has been archbishop of Washington for the past 12 years. He joined the priesthood in 1966 and was ordained a bishop in 1986 by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

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Francis' praise for Wuerl alarmed advocates for abuse survivors, who said it was evidence of the clerical culture Francis himself denounces in which the church hierarchy consistently protects its own.

In a glowing letter of support, Francis made clear that he accepted Wuerl's resignation reluctantly, at Wuerl's insistence, and believed he was not guilty of trying to hide abuse.

For the last five years, Wuerl has also been the single most important voice within the U.S. hierarchy defending Pope Francis, at a time when some other American bishops and Catholic leaders have struck discordant notes.

"I think I did everything that I possibly could", Wuerl said in the television interview.

He was appointed Bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988.

Wuerl had offered his resignation as archbishop in late 2015, after he turned 75.

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