Cardinal said to understand that the healing from abuse crisis means new leadership needed for Washington Archdiocese
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl from the archdiocese of Washington, where he succeeded ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Cardinal Wuerl had submitted his resignation three years ago, when he turned 75, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law.
Last month, Wuerl met with the pope in Rome to discuss the acceptance of his resignation, in the wake of the controversy surrounding McCarrick.
At the time of the meeting, a spokesman for the archdiocese said, “Cardinal Wuerl understands that healing from the abuse crisis requires a new beginning and this includes new leadership for the Archdiocese of Washington.”
In accepting the resignation, the Holy Father said that he saw in the cardinal’s request the “heart of the shepherd who, by widening his vision to recognize a greater good that can benefit the whole body, prioritizes actions that support, stimulate, and make the unity and mission of the Church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies who, trying to hurt the shepherd, wants nothing more than that the sheep be dispersed.”
Francis stated that Wuerl could have defended his actions, because there is a difference between “what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes.”
However, the pope continued, “your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense.”
In his letter, Pope Francis asks Cardinal Wuerl “to remain as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until the appointment” of a successor.
In a separate statement, Wuerl “once again” apologized and asked for forgiveness for “any past errors in judgement.”
Both Pope Francis’ letter and the statement by Cardinal Wuerl can be seen on the website of the Archdiocese of Washington.