Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Pope accepts Cardinal Wuerl's resignation over sex abuse cover-up

Christian Pew Catholicism Suffers Highest Net Losses Due to Religious Switching MLADEN ANTONOV AFP Getty 11 Oct 2018
Jeannette Daniel | 13 October, 2018, 13:40

The diocese became aware of complaints of sexual abuse against Zirwas before Wuerl became bishop, but the grand jury says despite additional allegations, Wuerl kept Zirwas in ministry until 1994. "They're removing him from this situation where people feel betrayed, but he's still got all the power pretty much that he ever had".

But Wuerl made a personal appeal to Francis last month to accept the resignation, following the fallout of the McCarrick scandal and outrage over the Pennsylvania grand jury report that has led to a crisis in confidence in the church hierarchy.

While the Holy See Press Office announced the cardinal's resignation in a one-line statement, a letter from Pope Francis to Wuerl was released separately by the Archdiocese of Washington. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.

Wuerl has also been accused of knowing that his predecessor in Washington, ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, had forced male adult seminarians to have sex with him years ago.

In the weeks since, Francis has alluded to Viganò's letter, to which he has said he will not respond, by speaking of the devil's role in trying to divide the church. By seemingly downplaying the gravity of these sins and Wuerl's moral culpability for them, he is thereby participating in these sins. A spokesman for Cardinal Wuerl confirmed to CNA Sept. 12 that the cardinal meant to formally ask Pope Francis to allow him to step down.

He said he was "stepping aside to allow for new leadership that doesn't have this baggage".

More news: MeToo complaints to be probed by committee of retired judges: Centre

"My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you, the people of the Church of Washington", he said. In accepting his resignation now, Francis asked that Wuerl remain as the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

In a letter to the Washington faithful, which Wuerl asked to be read aloud at Mass this weekend, the cardinal addressed survivors of abuse. "And that was to introduce the zero tolerance and... any priest against whom there was a credible, proven accusation, that appropriate action was taken", Wuerl had said. And during the cardinal's 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh, he said, "there were no cover-ups of claims of abuse".

He was appointed Bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988. It named more than 300 priests.

However, the grand jury documented other cases where accused priests in Pittsburgh were allowed to return to parish work. He joined the priesthood in 1966, was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1986, and served briefly as auxiliary bishop in Seattle before going to Pittsburgh. A deacon assigned to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington wrote a letter, later posted online, in which he called upon the cardinal to resign and added that he could no longer assist him as a deacon or master of ceremonies.

The pope goes on to extol Wuerl's move as that of a "shepherd" who, "by widening his vision to recognize a greater good that can benefit the whole body, prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity and mission of the Church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies". They included a letter from the archdiocesan chancellor, Kim Vitti Fiorentino, who lamented that Wuerl's "pioneering leadership in the enhancement, implementation and enforcement of historically innovative child protection policies was overshadowed by the (Pennsylvania grand jury) report's flaws and its interpretation by the media".

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