Cardinal Donald Wuerl: the mild-mannered face of crisis
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