Donald Wuerl to meet priests over sex-abuse scandals

September 3, 2018 GMT

The archbishop of Washington will reportedly hold a meeting Monday of priests in the archdiocese over his role in the Pennsylvania sex-abuse scandals.

“A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington” confirmed Sunday night that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will address his priests on the grand-jury report on that matter, TV station WTTG (Fox 5) reported.

Cardinal Wuerl was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, part of the period investigated by the Pennsylvania grand jury and his mishandling of sex-abuse charges was widely detailed in its report. All told, according to the report, six of the state’s dioceses knew of more than 300 priests accused of varying forms of sex-abuse against more than 1,000 young people.

In addition, according to Fox-5, Cardinal Wuerl will also discuss with his priests the case of Theodore McCarrick, his predecessor as Washington archbishop who resigned from the College of Cardinals over charges of sexual abuse of boys and young men his seminarians and other men discerning the priesthood among them going back decades.

Fox-5 also reported that the Archdiocese confirmed that Cardinal Wuerl had canceled a scheduled visit to Ireland in favor of the mandatory meeting of his priests.

There was no immediate indication that Cardinal Wuerl would resign, as he has been under considerable pressure to do so in the past week, either from the College of Cardinals or as head of the Washington archdiocese.

Upon his 75th birthday, Cardinal Wuerl submitted the customary resignation from the College of Cardinals. But popes are under no obligation to accept such resignations and sometimes even refuse them outright. Pope Francis has not acted on the resignation of Cardinal Wuerl, who turned 75 in November 2015.

Nevertheless, there were unconfirmed reports Sunday night of priests in the Washington diocese losing confidence in Cardinal Wuerl, who is, according to Catholic teaching, a kind of father to them and a man whom they swear to obey.

Rod Dreher, a columnist for the American Conservative, posted an account from a reader of what had happened at St. Mary, Mother of God, Church in Washington’s Chinatown neighborhood.

“The priest came out before the start of Mass and announced that Cardinal Wuerl wanted the specially composed USCCB prayer to be read, but then he said ’I’m not going to do that because I think it’s weak. So we’re going to pray Psalm 51 instead,” Mr. Dreher’s reader wrote.

“I’d never seen a parish priest defy a bishop in anything ... I have to think Wuerl has lost a lot of the rank and file among the clergy,” the reader concluded.

Pennsylvania’s secular officials are also accusing Cardinal Wuerl of lying, to this day, about his handling of sex-abuse charges by his priests in Pittsburgh.

“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. Offering misleading statements now only furthers the cover up,” state Attorney-General Josh Shapiro told CNN in a statement.