Published: Sun, October 14, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Pope Francis Accepts Cardinal Wuerl's Resignation

Pope Francis Accepts Cardinal Wuerl's Resignation

Pope Francis sent Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl a warm letter in accepting his resignation, praising what he said was Wuerl's nobility and sacrifice in stepping down for the greater good of the Catholic Church.

When the pope's decision was announced October 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.

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.

Wuerl has faced increasing pressure to resign ever since the publication of a grand jury report on abuses committed by priests in the USA state of Pennsylvania.

The cardinal, who will turn 78 on the 2 November, had submitted his resignation to the Pope nearly three years ago in accordance with the Church law which requires bishops to offer their retirement at age 75. "If Wuerl did these things, the pope should make an example of him to show that if it can happen to a cardinal, it can happen to any priest".

"However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence".

Wuerl had previously offered his resignation at age 75, as is customary in the church, but he was allowed to stay on in Washington, where he had served since 2006. 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.

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"It doesn't sound like the pope has gone far enough at all", said Mary Pat Fox, president of Voice of the Faithful, a national group that advocates for abuse victims and church accountability.

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.

"It was clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part is an essential aspect so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward", Cardinal Wuerl wrote in a September 11 letter to the priests of his archdiocese. Francis has said the devil is ultimately behind sex abuse of children by priests and current divisions in the Church.

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.

Reacting to this claim, Cardinal Ouellet penned an open letter which was issued on this Sunday. In the immediate aftermath, he also set up a website "The Wuerl Record" which sought to document and defend his conduct over abuse.

In 1993, when John Paul II was pope, Wuerl traveled to Rome, where he successfully persuaded the Vatican to overturn the reinstatement of an abusive priest.

"In the meantime, names of potential leaders for the archdiocese will be submitted to the pope through the apostolic nuncio for Pope Francis to determine the next suitable archbishop". "It seems like the great accuser has been unchained", the pope said, adding, "He tries to uncover the sins so they are visible in order to scandalize the people". He said Wuerl's resignation is "long overdue".

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