Cardinal DiNardo welcomes Vatican inquiry into McCarrick files

Pauline Gross
October 12, 2018

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington DC, the Vatican said.

The cardinal, one of the most prominent Church figures in the United States, has been a strong defender of Francis, who has been criticized by conservatives in the Church, some of whom say the pope himself should resign over the sexual abuse crisis.

"On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of October 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault", Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo said in a statement released October 7 in Rome.

"You have sufficient elements to "justify" your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes". The pope also praised Cardinal Wuerl's "nobility" in choosing to step down rather than defend his record under fire.

"I strongly doubt that McCarrick concerned him to the degree you'd like to think, given he was an 82-year-old emeritus archbishop who had been out of a job for seven years", Ouellet wrote. "Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon".

Wuerl, who led the Pittsburgh diocese for 18 years, was implicated in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report and had faced increased calls to step down over allegations he covered up for so-called "predator priests".

The statement also said the bishops offer their prayers and solidarity for the pope at this time and urged everyone in the Church, "particularly the bishops", to reaffirm communion with Pope Francis, "who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church".

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For the last five years, Wuerl has also been the single most important voice within the U.S. hierarchy defending Pope Francis, at a time when some other American bishops and Catholic leaders have struck discordant notes. Wuerl initially questioned Bendig's account but later accepted it and moved to oust Cipolla from the priesthood. Wuerl was in Washington on Friday morning.

The report is thought to be the most comprehensive to date into abuse in the U.S. church, and it covered six diocese in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh.

Ouellet said the claims were "monstrous" and "blasphemous", telling Vigano in his letter, "Come out of hiding, repent for your revolt and return to better feelings towards the Holy Father instead of worsening hostility against him".

Pope Francis speaks with the media onboard a plane during his flight back from Tallinn after the final leg of his visit to the Baltic states, Estonia.

Survivor advocate David Clohessy of the group SNAP said Wuerl's "long-overdue" resignation might give solace to victims.

"But if archaic, predatory-friendly laws were reformed and if more prosecutors showed real courage, these complicit clerics might face criminal charges, and that might make a real difference, " he said in a statement.

Wuerl was born in Pittsburgh, attended Catholic University and received a doctorate in theology from the University of Saint Thomas in Rome.

Other reports by GizPress

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