Pope accepts Cardinal Wuerl's resignation as archbishop of Washington

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring


CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W.
Wuerl as archbishop of Washington but did not name a successor.

the pope’s decision was announced Oct. 12, the Archdiocese of Washington
released a letter from Pope Francis to the cardinal, making clear his support
for Cardinal Wuerl’s ministry and leadership, but also praising the cardinal
for putting the good of the church first.

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,”
the pope wrote. “However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way
of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.”

Wuerl had been facing pressure to resign after an Aug. 14 grand jury report
detailing sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses painted a mixed
picture of how he handled some of the cases when he was bishop in Pittsburgh
from 1988 until 2006.

77-year-old cardinal, the sixth archbishop of Washington, had submitted his
resignation, as is mandatory, to the pope when he turned 75, but it had not
been accepted.

early September, Cardinal Wuerl told priests of the archdiocese that he would meet
with Pope Francis and ask him to accept his resignation “so that this
archdiocesan church we all love can move forward” and can experience
“a new beginning.”

Vatican announcement that the pope accepted his resignation came more than two
months after the announcement that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of retired
Washington Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of Cardinals.
Archbishop McCarrick faces credible allegations of sexual abuse, including two
that involved minors; Pope Francis ordered him to maintain “a life of
prayer and penance” while awaiting a trial or other canonical process on
the charges.

Wuerl has said until the Archdiocese of New York began investigating the claims
that Archbishop McCarrick abused a minor, he was never informed of such
accusations or even the rumors of Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual harassment of

a letter Aug. 30 to the priests of the archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl apologized
for not being as close to his priests as he could or should have been in the
wake of all the abuse-related scandals.

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.”

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 sincere solidarity with you and them.”


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