Wash­ing­ton arch­bishop re­signs in wake of clergy sex abuse scan­dal

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Alvise Armellini

VAT­I­CAN CITY — U.S. Car­di­nal Don­ald Wuerl, ac­cused of cov­er­ing up sex abuse crimes by priests, has stepped down as arch­bishop of Wash­ing­ton, the Vat­i­can said Fri­day.

The high-pro­file res­ig­na­tion was an­other blow for Pope Fran­cis, who re­cently has been con­fronted with mount­ing clergy sex abuse scan­dals across the globe.

Fran­cis ac­cepted Wuerl’s re­quest to go, a Vat­i­can state­ment said. How­ever, he also asked the car­di­nal to stay on in a care­taker role un­til a re­place­ment 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 in a state­ment posted on the Wash­ing­ton Arch­dio­cese’s web­site.

“Once again, for any past er­rors in judg­ment, I apol­o­gize and ask for par­don. My res­ig­na­tion is one way to ex­press my great and abid­ing love for you the peo­ple of the Church of Wash­ing­ton,” he added.

Wuerl, 77, had been un­der grow­ing pres­sure to re­sign since the pub­li­ca­tion in Au­gust of a Penn­syl­va­nia grand jury re­port on the abuses com­mit­ted by 301 priests over a pe­riod of 70 years.

The car­di­nal, who was bishop of Pitts­burgh from 19882006, was not ac­cused of any crimes but was named as hav­ing been ex­ces­sively le­nient to some child-abus­ing priests.

Becky Ianni, trea­surer of Sur­vivors Net­work for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said the or­ga­ni­za­tion is thank­ful that Pope Fran­cis ac­cepted Wuerl’s res­ig­na­tion.

“We hope that this ac­tion will bring heal­ing to vic­tims of clergy sex­ual abuse and re­lief to Catholics in the Arch­dio­cese of Wash­ing­ton,” Ianni said in a state­ment emailed to dpa.

But she also said it was in­sult­ing to all vic­tims that Fran­cis called Wuerl a “shep­herd” who made “some mis­takes.”

“This is an­other knife in the heart of those who have al­ready suf­fered at the hands of the Catholic church,” she said in the state­ment. “If the pope truly wants to pro­tect chil­dren and help vic­tims to heal, he needs to fire and pub­licly ad­mon­ish any bishop that has en­abled per­pe­tra­tors by con­ceal­ing their crimes from law en­force­ment and the pub­lic.”

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