Anger as car­di­nal al­lowed to quit

Sunday Star-Times - - DRIVETIMES -

Amid un­fold­ing sex abuse scan­dals, Pope Fran­cis has ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tion of Car­di­nal Don­ald Wuerl as arch­bishop of Wash­ing­ton, but the pope’s gen­tle words and lack of con­dem­na­tion an­gered those who feel top Catholic lead­ers con­tinue to shirk re­spon­si­bil­ity for the global cri­sis.

Among those frus­trated by the pope’s an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day was Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro, who over­saw a grand jury re­port is­sued in Au­gust on ram­pant sex abuse in six Penn­syl­va­nia dio­ce­ses. The re­port ac­cused Wuerl of help­ing to pro­tect some child-mo­lest­ing priests while he was bishop of Pitts­burgh from 1988 to 2006.

‘‘It is un­ac­cept­able that thenBishop Wuerl . . . over­saw and par­tic­i­pated in the sys­tem­atic coverup that he did when lead­ing the Pitts­burgh Dio­cese, and that he is now able to re­tire seem­ingly with no con­se­quences for his ac­tions,’’ Shapiro said. ‘‘We can’t rely on the church to fix it­self.’’

Shapiro spoke at a news con­fer­ence af­ter urg­ing the state Se­nate to pass leg­is­la­tion al­low­ing sex abuse vic­tims to sue in old cases they cur­rently can­not pur­sue be­cause of the statute of lim­i­ta­tions.

Wuerl had of­fered his res­ig­na­tion as arch­bishop in late 2015, af­ter he turned 75. Fran­cis ac­cepted the of­fer yes­ter­day, but asked Wuerl to stay on tem­po­rar­ily un­til a re­place­ment is found, and sug­gested he had un­fairly be­come a scape­goat and vic­tim of the mount­ing out­rage over the abuse scan­dal.

‘‘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,’’ Fran­cis wrote to Wuerl. ‘‘How­ever, your no­bil­ity has led you not to choose this way of de­fence. Of this I am proud and thank you.’’

Wuerl ini­tially played down the grand jury re­port and de­fended his record, but even­tu­ally con­cluded he should no longer lead the arch­dio­cese.

He is the most prom­i­nent Catholic head to roll since his pre­de­ces­sor as Wash­ing­ton arch­bishop, Theodore McCar­rick, was forced to re­sign as car­di­nal this year over al­le­ga­tions he sex­u­ally abused at least two mi­nors and adult sem­i­nar­i­ans. Wuerl faced wide­spread scep­ti­cism over his in­sis­tence that he knew noth­ing about years of al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct by McCar­rick.

Wuerl was named promi­nently in the 11-page de­nun­ci­a­tion of an al­leged McCar­rick coverup that was writ­ten by the Vat­i­can’s former am­bas­sador to the US, Arch­bishop Carlo Maria Vigano. He ac­cused a long line of US and Vat­i­can church­men of turn­ing a blind eye to McCar­rick’s pen­chant for sleep­ing with sem­i­nar­i­ans.

Fran­cis’s praise for Wuerl alarmed ad­vo­cates for abuse sur­vivors, who said it was ev­i­dence of the cler­i­cal cul­ture Fran­cis him­self de­nounces in which the church hi­er­ar­chy con­sis­tently pro­tects its own. The pope ‘‘needs to fire and pub­licly ad­mon­ish any bishop that has en­abled per­pe­tra­tors by con­ceal­ing their crimes from law en­force­ment and the pub­lic’’, said Becky Ianni of SNAP, a net­work of abuse sur­vivors.


An­drew Brun­son and wife Norine ar­rive at Ad­nan Men­deres Air­port for a flight to Ger­many af­ter his re­lease fol­low­ing his trial in Izmir, Turkey. The evan­gel­i­cal Christian pas­tor was con­victed of ter­ror charges but re­leased from house ar­rest and al­lowed to leave Turkey, in a move likely to ease ten­sions be­tween Turkey and the United States.


Car­di­nal Don­ald Wuerl was ac­cused of help­ing to pro­tect child-mo­lest­ing Catholic priests.

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