Pope accepts Washington cardinal's resignation amid scandal

Pope accepts embattled DC cardinal's resignation

Pope Francis accepts Cardinal Donald Wuerl's resignation as archbishop of Washington D.C. today

Wuerl, who has stepped down as archbishop of Washington, had announced last month that he planned to meet with the pope to discuss his resignation. The pope indicated his full support for the outgoing archbishop, saying Wuerl made his request to stand down - amid mounting pressure - based, "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 trusted to your care".

"In accepting your resignation, I ask you to remain as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until the appointment of your successor". However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. "Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologise and ask for pardon".

In a letter August 30 to the priests of the archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl apologized for not being as close to his priests as he could or should have been in the wake of all the abuse-related scandals. They resented his pivotal role a decade ago in resisting a push by some of his fellow bishops to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support the right to abortion. But cardinals are often allowed to serve until they are 80. The Vatican's highest court ordered Wuerl to restore Cipolla to priestly ministry, but Wuerl resisted and, after two years of legal procedures, prevailed in preventing Cipolla's return.

"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.

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.

I also take this occasion to express my honest appreciation to Cardinal Wuerl for his longstanding and dedicated service to Our Lord Jesus and his Church. In this capacity, Wuerl attended the 1978 conclave that elected Pope St. John Paul II as an aide to the ailing Cardinal Wright.

Wuerl is accused of allowing priests he knew were abusing children to go unpunished. Years later, according to the report, six more people alleged that they were sexually assaulted by O'Malley, in some cases after he had been reinstated.

Wuerl's powers are limited to "caretaking" of the church until a new archbishop is named for the Archdiocese of Washington, the Rev. William Byrne, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, Maryland, told WTOP.

In the mid 1980s, the issue was an irregular situation where then-Bishop Wuerl was given administrative responsibilities at the expense of the late Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, who had run afoul of the Vatican for some of his pastoral tendencies.

Cardinal Wuerl is a member of several Vatican departments, including the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Congregation for Bishops.

Wuerl's archdiocese issued a series of plaudits Friday, coinciding with the Vatican announcement.

Benedict XVI appointed him archbishop of Washington in 2006, upon the retirement of the now-disgraced McCarrick, who had led the archdiocese since 2001. "Whether people want to defend him or not for Pittsburgh, the Church has still been severely damaged". "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.

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