Pope accepts resignation of Cardinal Wuerl
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.