News outlets across the country are reporting news from the Vatican that Pope Francis has accepted 77-year-old Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington, D.C. However, Wuerl submitted his resignation in 2015 when he turned 75 as required by canon law.
Here’s where the story takes an odd and troubling turn. In announcing the resignation the Pope praises Wuerl’s actions as bishop.
“This request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care,” Pope Francis wrote.
In the Oct. 12 letter accepting the cardinal’s resignation, the Holy Father defended the cardinal from the widespread criticism he has faced in recent months.
“You have sufficient elements to ‘justify’ your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes,” he said. “However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.”
“Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church,” he added.
Francis praises a man whose tenure in Pittsburgh was scandal ridden and at the very heart of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. Attorney General Josh Shapiro who led the investigation into the Pennsylvania dioceses had this to say about Cardinal Wuerl:
“Cardinal Wuerl is not telling the truth. Many of his statements in response to the Grand Jury Report are directly contradicted by the Church’s own documents and records from their Secret Archives.”
Shapiro indicated that Wuerl was perhaps digging a deeper hole for himself.
“Offering misleading statements now only furthers the cover up,” added Shapiro.
A review of the approximately 300 cases cited in grand jury report reveals several examples of Wuerl mishandling of priests who committed sexual abuse; sending them back to parish work after completing time in counseling centers; failure to report sexual abuse by priests to the authorities; and rendering only “minimal cooperation” when he did work with the police.
Conservative blogger Rod Dreher has noted that Wuerl was a favorite of Francis and knew the inner workings of the church like no other. Of course he did. He was mentored by none other than Cardinal John Wright, former bishop of Pittsburgh who died in 1979. Numerous allegations still swirl around Wright concerning his heavy drinking and sexual orgies with under age males. This was the man who mentored and formed Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
While no one has accused Wuerl of abusing children, he certainly did his part in covering up for those who did abuse children. Perhaps this is why he has such good relations with the Vatican. Attorney General Shapiro has reported that the bishops, including Wuerl, were involved in a massive conspiracy of cover-up that involved the Vatican as well.
“There are specific examples where when the abuse occurred, the priests would go, the bishops would go and lie to parishioners, lie to law enforcement, lie to the public, but then document all of the abuse in secret archives that they would share oftentimes with the Vatican. There are specific examples where the Vatican knew of this abuse and they were involved in the cover-up,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Tuesday.
Asked whether that included the pope, Shapiro wouldn’t say.
“I can tell you that there is facts, there is evidence that takes this cover-up and what occurred in Pennsylvania directly to the Vatican,” he repeated.
In the Pope’s view, Cardinal Wuerl is docile to the Spirit (which spirit?) and a noble son of the Church. In the eyes of the public and the Pennsylvania Attorney General, he’s a liar who’s involved in a criminal conspiracy to harm children.
Admitted to both the California State Bar and the Florida State Bar, Joseph Saunders has also practiced in the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representation and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury or death at the hands of insurance companies, large corporations, medical providers or governmental entities.