Pope ripped for prais­ing D.C. cardinal

Crit­ics: Words hurt vic­tims

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By MARIE SZANISZLO — marie.szaniszlo@boston­her­ald.com

Pope Fran­cis’ gen­tle words, lack of con­dem­na­tion and even praise as he ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tion of Cardinal Don­ald Wuerl, the Washington arch­bishop ac­cused of pro­tect­ing child-mo­lest­ing priests, was slammed by crit­ics yes­ter­day as an af­front to vic­tims.

The pon­tiff asked Wuerl to stay on tem­po­rar­ily un­til a re­place­ment is found and sug­gested he had un­fairly be­come a scape­goat and vic­tim him­self of the mount­ing out­rage over the priest sex 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 de­fense. Of this I am proud and thank you.”

That prompted an an­gry re­sponse from Bos­ton at­tor­ney Mitchell Garabe­dian, who said the pope should have or­dered Wuerl to own up to his trans­gres­sions for the sake of those he hurt.

“In­stead of por­tray­ing Cardinal Wuerl as a vic­tim who made some mis­takes, Pope Fran­cis should be in­struct­ing Cardinal Wuerl to fully re­veal Cardinal Wuerl’s role in the coverup while bishop of the Dio­cese of Pitts­burgh for about 18 years and in the scan­dal in­volv­ing for­mer Cardinal (Theodore) McCar­rick so that vic­tims can try to heal,” Garabe­dian said in a state­ment, re­fer­ring to Wuerl’s pre­de­ces­sor, who re­signed ear­lier this year af­ter al­le­ga­tions McCar­rick sex­u­ally abused mi­nors and adult sem­i­nar­i­ans over the course of decades.

Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro, who over­saw a grand jury re­port that ac­cused then-Bishop Wuerl of shield­ing child-mo­lest­ing priests while he was bishop of Pitts­burgh from 1988 to 2006, called it “un­ac­cept­able” that Wuerl “over­saw and par­tic­i­pated in the sys­tem­atic cover-up … and that he is now able to re­tire seem­ingly with no con­se­quences for his ac­tions.”

“We can’t rely on the church to fix it­self,” Shapiro said.

At­tor­ney Car­men Durso, who, like Garabe­dian, has rep­re­sented nu­mer­ous clergy sex abuse vic­tims in the Bos­ton Arch­dio­cese, said by keep­ing Wuerl on, Fran­cis is not only send­ing the wrong mes­sage to sur­vivors but to bish­ops who are “try­ing to feel their way about how to deal with sex abuse.”

“It should be zero tol­er­ance,” Durso said. “You don’t cover up for (abu­sive priests). You don’t move them else­where. If Wuerl did these things, the pope should make an ex­am­ple of him to show that if it can hap­pen to a cardinal, it can hap­pen to any priest.”

AP FILE PHOTO

STAY­ING ON — FOR NOW: Cardinal Don­ald Wuerl of Washington was forced to re­sign amid al­le­ga­tions he cov­ered up clergy sex abuse in the Pitts­burgh Dio­cese, but will stay on un­til his re­place­ment is named.

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