Car­di­nal Don­ald Wuerl: the mild-man­nered face of cri­sis

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - AGENDA -

Pohl, said the grand jury re­port has painted the car­di­nal un­fairly, when he was sim­ply fol­low­ing the norms of the day — whether that was com­ing to con­fi­den­tial set­tle­ments with vic­tims or not re­port­ing cer­tain com­plaints to po­lice. “The re­port in­ten­tion­ally seeks to cre­ate the worst pos­si­ble out­come in me­dia cov­er­age for some­one like his emi­nence,” McFad­den said.

What this will all mean for Wuerl is un­clear.

As is re­quired of all bish­ops, Wuerl sub­mit­ted his re­tire­ment pa­per­work when he turned 75, in 2015. If any­thing, his star has risen since, es­pe­cially as an ally of Fran­cis. He now sits on the Vat­i­can’s pow­er­ful bishop-pick­ing com­mit­tee and is un­der­stood to be a con­fi­dant of the pope.

Af­ter the grand jury re­port was re­leased he im­me­di­ately put out a state­ment say­ing he be­lieved the re­port “con­firms that I acted with dili­gence, with con­cern for the vic­tims and to pre­vent fu­ture acts of abuse”.

Wuerl’s talk at this week­end’s World Meet­ing of Fam­i­lies was ti­tled ‘The Wel­fare of the Fam­ily Is De­ci­sive for the Fu­ture of the World’.

Pope Fran­cis on Mon­day ended his si­lence on the Penn­syl­va­nia re­port and said church lead­ers “showed no care for the lit­tle ones”.

The let­ter did not list spe­cific ac­tions he would take, but the pope clearly de­scribed abuse as “crimes” and used the term “coverup” twice, noted Marie Collins, an Ir­ish abuse sur­vivor who served on a pa­pal com­mis­sion about clergy sex­ual abuse of chil­dren. “There is an ac­cep­tance that the cover-up is a fact,” she said. “Un­til now, de­niers and de­fend­ers within the clergy and out­side have de­nied the cover-up. Now the pope ac­tu­ally said it: It’s a fact.”

Pres­sure from the out­side is in­creas­ing the pos­si­bil­ity for change, she said. “Now the fact that or­di­nary Catholics are be­gin­ning to raise their voices as well, that’s putting pres­sure that hasn’t been be­fore. There is so much anger.”

Some are say­ing that res­ig­na­tion should not be an op­tion for Wuerl or other high-rank­ing Catholic of­fi­cials if they are deemed cul­pa­ble of cov­er­ing up sex abuse. In­stead, they should be forced out, they say.

Collins re­ferred to the un­prece­dented res­ig­na­tion of a car­di­nal this sum­mer.

McCar­rick’s res­ig­na­tion “could only be brought about by a pope,” Collins said. “Un­til re­cently, bish­ops would not have con­sid­ered re­sign­ing. It’s just not in the cul­ture of the church to fall on your sword.”

It seems un­likely Wuerl will be out of of­fice any­time soon.

Pope Fran­cis’ com­ments last Mon­day didn’t men­tion Wuerl. Nei­ther did those last week of Car­di­nal Daniel DiNardo, pres­i­dent of the US Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops, who said he is invit­ing the Vat­i­can to in­ves­ti­gate McCar­rick’s case.

This is an edited ver­sion of a ‘Wash­ing­ton Post’ ar­ti­cle

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