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Washington cardinal resigns amid scandals

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 10/12/18, 11:17 am

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is implicated in two different sexual abuse and cover-up scandals. Wuerl continued to defend his record on dealing with abuse but asked for forgiveness for “any past errors of judgment.” Some church members demanded Wuerl’s resignation after an August report on widespread child sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Wuerl served as the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, and the report accused him of helping protect some of the abusive priests. Wuerl, 77, had downplayed the scandal but eventually concluded he could no longer lead the archdiocese. In a letter released by Wuerl’s office, Francis asked him to stay on temporarily while the church looked for a replacement and credited his “nobility” in choosing to put the interests of his church ahead of ambition.

Wuerl’s predecessor in the Washington archdiocese, Theodore McCarrick, resigned amid accusations he sexually abused seminarians, young priests, and at least two minors. Wuerl denied in August that he was ever informed of the accusations against McCarrick. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò contradicted that claim in an open letter he published in August. Wuerl has not been criminally charged in either case. Nearly three years ago, Wuerl submitted his resignation but Francis kept him on—not an uncommon move with bishops who are healthy and closely aligned with the pope. Last month, Wuerl personally appealed to Francis to accept the resignation in the midst of the fallout of the scandal in Pennsylvania and Washington.


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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. Follow Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_Lynn_A.

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