Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

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

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

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Monday he welcomes the Vatican's announcement of a further investigation into files on disgraced Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, praising the Pope's steps to end sexual assault.

On the abuse crisis, Wuerl also would have been as among the more aggressive American bishops in supporting and implementing a "zero tolerance" policy - ironically, a reputation that reached back to his time as the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.

He added: "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense".

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

A Vatican statement Friday said Francis had accepted Wuerl's resignation, but named no replacement; in his letter, the pope asked him to stay on in a temporary capacity until a new archbishop is found.

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"In response to your unjust and unjustified attack, dear Vigano, I conclude that your accusation is a political setup without any real foundation that could incriminate the pope, and I repeat that it has profoundly wounded the communion of the church", Ouellet wrote.

Wuerl called the pope's letter a "very, very beautiful" recognition and noted that this decision will "permit this local church to move forward".

"On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of October 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault", Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo said in a statement released October 7 in Rome. And on Labor Day, at a gathering for priests and seminarians of the archdiocese, seminarians even refused to pose for a picture with him.

Before the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released in mid-August, the book on Donald Wuerl would have been that he was among the most influential churchmen in American Catholicism over the last fifty years, and arguably the single most important of the last 20.

"[The Church must be] saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past", Francis said on September 29.

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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. Among the accusations against him is that he reassigned and reinstated some of them.

"Francis would want to take his time in finding a successor in sympathy with his vision of where the Church should be going", said Father Tom Reese, author of several books on the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.

"You can not end your priestly life in an open and scandalous rebellion that inflicts a painful wound" on the church and divides its people, he ended his letter.

Obviously, many Catholics are outraged that church leaders who seem to have ready answers for how laypeople should live and behave have been so slow to figure out a way to stop sexual abuse by clergy and to hold bishops and cardinals accountable for their personal behavior and for the cover-up.

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