Pope ac­cepts US car­di­nal’s res­ig­na­tion for ‘mis­takes’ in han­dling sex scan­dal

The Herald - - INTERNATIONAL -

POPE Francis has ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tion of Wash­ing­ton Car­di­nal Don­ald Wuerl af­ter he be­came en­tan­gled in two ma­jor sex­ual abuse and cover-up scan­dals.

Wuerl, who turns 78 in Novem­ber, be­comes the most prom­i­nent head to roll in the scan­dal rock­ing the Catholic Church af­ter his pre­de­ces­sor as Wash­ing­ton arch­bishop, Theodore Mccar­rick, was forced to re­sign as car­di­nal over al­le­ga­tions he sex­u­ally abused at least two mi­nors and adult sem­i­nar­i­ans.

A Vatican state­ment said Francis had ac­cepted Wuerl’s res­ig­na­tion, but named no im­me­di­ate re­place­ment.

The de­ci­sion came af­ter months in which Wuerl ini­tially down­played the scan­dal, in­sisted on his own good record, but then pro­gres­sively came to the con­clu­sion that he could no longer lead the arch­dio­cese.

Francis praised his long­time ally and sug­gested Wuerl had un­fairly be­come a scape­goat, hav­ing made some “mis­takes” in han­dling sex abuse cases, but not hav­ing cov­ered them up.

In his let­ter, the pope asked Wuerl to stay on in a tem­po­rary ca­pac­ity un­til a new arch­bishop is found.

“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,” Wuerl said. “Once again for any past er­rors in judg­ment I apol­o­gise and ask for par­don.”

In his let­ter ac­cept­ing the res­ig­na­tion, Francis said:“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 de­fence. Of this I am proud and thank you.”

A grand jury re­port is­sued in Au­gust on ram­pant sex abuse in six Penn­syl­va­nia dio­ce­ses ac­cused Wuerl of help­ing to pro­tect some child-mo­lest­ing pri­ests while he was bishop of Pitts­burgh from 1988 to 2006. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, Wuerl faced wide­spread scep­ti­cism over his in­sis­tence that he knew noth­ing about years of al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct by Mccar­rick.

Wuerl has not been charged with any wrong­do­ing.

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