Pope ac­cepts res­ig­na­tion of Car­di­nal Wuerl

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tion Fri­day of Wash­ing­ton Car­di­nal Don­ald Wuerl af­ter he be­came en­tan­gled in two ma­jor sex­ual abuse and cover-up scan­dals and lost the sup­port of many in his flock.

But in a let­ter re­leased by Wuerl’s of­fice, Francis asked him to stay on tem­po­rar­ily and sug­gested Wuerl had un­fairly be­come a scape­goat, hav­ing made “mis­takes” in han­dling sex abuse cases but not hav­ing cov­ered them up.

With the res­ig­na­tion, Wuerl, 77, be­comes the most prom­i­nent head to roll in the scan­dal roil­ing 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 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 skep­ti­cism over his in­sis­tence that he knew noth­ing about years of al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct by Mc­Car­rick.

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