Cardinal Donald Wuerl announced Tuesday that he will meet with Pope Francis soon to discuss his resignation in order to bring healing to abuse survivors.
Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, made the announcement in a letter to the priests of the archdiocese, saying that the decision was “an essential aspect” of helping the church as whole heal from the recent revelations rampant sexual abuse and cover-ups found the Pennsylvania grand jury report and further allegations from other members of the clergy. (RELATED: Cardinal Wuerl Allegedly Informed Of McCarrick Allegations In 2017, While Seminarians Took McCarrick To Casinos And A Beach House)
Several prominent D.C. Catholics and groups of sexual abuse survivors demanded Wuerl’s resignation in light of the grand jury report’s finding that he protected predatory priests and kept them in ministry during his tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh. Resignation demands intensified after archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano released an 11-page letter detailing Wuerl’s alleged knowledge of and failure to confront Theodore McCarrick’s alleged abuses.
BREAKING: In letter to priests today Cardinal Wuerl writes that he will travel again to Rome soon to meet with Pope Francis and discuss resignation. pic.twitter.com/CrzkcA0SYh
— Fr. Kevin M. Cusick (Blue Check Mark here) (@MCITLFrAphorism) September 11, 2018
“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,” Wuerl wrote. “As a fruit of our discernment I intend, in the very near future, to go to Rome to meet with our Holy Father about the resignation I presented nearly three years ago, November 12, 2015.”
It is customary for bishops to tender resignation letters to the pope once they reach 75 years of age.
Those who have demanded Wuerl’s resignation include Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, faculty in Holy Trinity School in Georgetown, Deacon James Garcia, and sex abuse survivors.
Wuerl has consistently denied having any knowledge of McCarrick’s alleged abuses before the media made those claims public, but critics have contested that, saying he should have known about the settlements his predecessor paid to seminarians he allegedly abused. The cardinal attempted to preemptively defend his record as the bishop of Pittsburgh hours before the Pennsylvania report was released, but the report only led to further criticism of his failures to address, and what some have called his enabling of, sexual abuse.
So great was the furor over Wuerl’s failures and his attempts to protect himself that some parishioners openly shamed him during a speech he delivered at a mass in D.C. in which he asked for parishioners’ support of himself and Francis. The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle announced that Wuerl would be hosting a Mass of healing for sexual abuse victims on Sept. 14, but critics argued that victims would not receive “genuine healing” until he resigned.
“Our discernment here, I believe, has indicated the way forward to bring healing and a new beginning at the service of this Church,” Wuerl wrote.
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