Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Wuerl as Washington Archbishop

Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Wuerl as Washington Archbishop

Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Wuerl as Washington Archbishop

In a letter to Cardinal Wuerl, obtained by CNA, the Pope said: "Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church".

The archdiocese also announced the pope has named Cardinal Wuerl as apostolic administrator to oversee the archdiocese until a successor is named.

"Your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence".

Wuerl's office released a statement saying, "Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon". The new bishop was charged with special responsibility for five problem areas in the archdiocese: liturgy, the tribunal, priest formation, moral and bioethical issues in Catholic hospitals, and ministry and teaching concerning homosexuality. Known as a key ally of Pope Francis, Wuerl sits on the Vatican committee that vets and appoints bishops around the world.

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Wuerl's predecessor as Washington archbishop, Theodore McCarrick, was forced to resign as cardinal over allegations he sexually abused at least two minors and adult seminarians. 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 permits this local Church to move forward".

At this time in the life of our Church, all bishops are called, as Cardinal Wuerl has done, to acknowledge any failure to protect Gods' children, to express deepest apologies to victims of sexual abuse and to renew our commitment to assist them in their healing process in any way possible.

FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Donald William Wuerl from US waves as he arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 7, 2013.

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After his resignation was announced October 12, Cardinal Wuerl said in a statement: "Once again for any past errors in judgment, I apologize and ask for pardon".

Pope Francis's letter was far from accusatory against Cardinal Wuerl.

On the abuse crisis, Wuerl also would have been as among the more aggressive American bishops in supporting and implementing a "zero tolerance" policy - ironically, a reputation that reached back to his time as the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.

These "mistakes" were in actuality crimes, and Wuerl's name was mentioned 169 times in the Pennsylvania grand jury report published in August. 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. He joined the priesthood in 1966, was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1986, and served briefly as auxiliary bishop in Seattle before going to Pittsburgh. He has served on a number of Vatican congregations, councils and commissions, as well as numerous national and global organizations such as the Papal Foundation and various committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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As apostolic administrator, Cardinal Wuerl will continue to lead the day-to-day activities of the archdiocese, but will not be permitted to make any major changes. "When Archbishop Carlo Viganò wrote that Cardinal Wuerl "lies shamelessly" in his "testimony" published in late August, it confirmed conclusions that many Washington priests had already arrived at". He said Wuerl's resignation is "long overdue". "Whether people want to defend him or not for Pittsburgh, the Church has still been severely damaged".

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