Cardinal Donald Wuerl resigns over US abuse crisis

Cardinal Donald Wuerl has formally resigned as Archbishop of Washington.

He has been under increasing pressure to step down since a Pennsylvania grand jury report about clergy abuse criticised his handling of abuse cases when he was Bishop of Pittsburgh.

Last month, Wuerl went to Rome to ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation.

In his letter accepting Wuerl’s resignation, Francis said:

“Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church.

“In accepting your resignation, I ask you to remain as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until the appointment of your successor.”

Francis also wrote: “This request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care.”

Francis said in Wuerl’s resignation request he recognised “the heart of the shepherd who, by widening his vision to recognise a greater good that can benefit the whole body, prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity and the mission of the church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies who, trying to hurt the shepherd, wants nothing more than the sheep to be dispersed (cf. Matt. 26-31).”

He also made clear he considers Wuerl’s actions when he was bishop of Pittsburgh as “mistakes,” not a cover-up or neglecting to deal with problems of abuse, and acknowledged that the cardinal could have defended himself in this field.

Francis also commended Wuerl for not engaging in self-defense, saying “Of this, I am proud and thank you.

“In this way, you make clear the intent to put God’s project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as for the good of the church.”


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