Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who was at the center of the Pennsylvania grand jury report in August which accused more than 300 Catholic priests of the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children.
Said Wuerl in a statement: “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has accepted the resignation first offered on November 12, 2015, when I reached my 75th birthday. I am profoundly grateful for his devoted commitment to the wellbeing of the Archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding. The Holy Father’s decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future. It permits this local Church to move forward. Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the Church of Washington.”
The NYT reports: ‘But instead of making an example of Cardinal Wuerl, who was named in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused church leaders of covering up abuse, Francis held him up as a model for the future unity of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope cited Cardinal Wuerl’s “nobility” and announced that the 77-year-old prelate would stay on as the archdiocese’s caretaker until the appointment of his successor. In an interview, Cardinal Wuerl said that he would continue to live in Washington and that he expected to keep his position in Vatican offices that exert great influence, including one that advises the pope on the appointment of bishops.’
Earlier today, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, accepted my resignation as Archbishop of Washington that I first offered almost three years ago. Read his beautiful letter and my statement here: https://t.co/iIoPrGgU86
— Cardinal Wuerl (@Cardinal_Wuerl) October 12, 2018
Wrote Francis in a letter to Wuerl: “I recognize in your request the heart of the 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 who, trying to hurt the shepherd, wants nothing more than that the sheep be dispersed…You have sufficient elements to ‘justify’ your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes…However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.”