Pope, Tarnished Archbishop Have a Decision to Make

Cardinal Wuerl says his resignation is on the table
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2018 8:11 AM CDT
Pope, Tarnished Archbishop Have a Decision to Make
Pope Francis, left, talks with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, DC, at the Vatican on April 17, 2015.   (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Since last month's grand jury report describing how the former archbishop of Pittsburgh reassigned priests accused of abusing children, Cardinal Donald Wuerl has had his name scrubbed from a school, been the subject of protests by Catholic schoolteachers, and faced calls from priests and parishioners to resign. Resignation is now on the table, the 77-year-old archbishop of Washington wrote in a Tuesday letter to priests, laying out a plan to discuss the subject with Pope Francis in Rome. Wuerl submitted his resignation at age 75 as is required of Catholic bishops, but the pope kept him on as one of his top US advisers, per the New York Times and CNN. During a meeting two weeks ago, the pope told Wuerl to consult with priests about the best way forward, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Amid questions over whether he knew about molestation claims against his predecessor, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, he heard calls for him both to stay and resign. That showed the need for "some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part," Wuerl writes. Noting abuse survivors "have personally suffered so much," his letter adds non-victims "have also been wounded by the shame of these terrible actions and have questions about their bishop's ability to provide the necessary leadership." The letter doesn't say whether Wuerl will ask the pope to accept his resignation, however. (Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican's former ambassador to the US, said Wuerl was complicit in a coverup.)

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