Friday, 12 October 2018

Cardinal Wuerl finally resigns, but will remain very influential

Cardinal Wuerl has at last resigned as Archbishop of Washington D.C. after being accused of covering up cases of clerical child abuse when he was Bishop of Pittsburgh, rather than reporting them to the police. Crimes committed by priests in his former diocese were extensive and revealed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jurors' Report that has so shocked everyone. He was mentioned 200 times in the report.

Donald Wuerl began his career as private secretary to Bishop, later Cardinal Wright who was a pederast who interfered with teenage boys. Wright became Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy — that is, head of the Vatican’s apparatus for overseeing priests worldwide - and shared an apartment with Donald Wuerl.

Rod Dreher from whom I learnt this, rightly says: 

Guilt by association is a fallacy. We do not know that Cardinal Wuerl is gay, or personally guilty of any sexual misconduct. I am not here asserting, or even insinuating, that he is.
Nor am I by quoting him.

But it is a very sad reflection on the state of the church that two predatory homosexuals and pederasts became cardinals in the USA. Cardinal Wurhl was the protege of each. In fact there have been others. Cardinal Spellman of New York, for one.

Archbishop Viganò in his famous letter said 

I myself brought up the subject [Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual abuse] with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions, and I certainly didn’t need to go into detail because it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it. ...[His] recent statements that he knew nothing about it … are absolutely laughable. He lies shamelessly.
An article in an American conservative magazine says
Wuerl’s defense is that he is not an evil man who looked the other way about the behavior of a known sexual predator, but merely an incompetent dolt. And Wuerl seems to think that being guilty of gross incompetence should entitle him to keep his job. A responsible leader of good character would have walked away in disgrace the moment he learned of these scandals. Wuerl’s first public comment on the McCarrick story was to say, “I don’t think this is some massive, massive crisis.”'
Pope Francis wrote today to the cardinal to accept his resignation and ask him to stay on as an interim apostolic administrator (Archbishop in all but name)

In his letter the Pope said: 
I am aware that 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. The shepherd knows that the well-being and the unity of the People of God are precious gifts that the Lord has implored and for which he gave his life. He paid a very high price for this unity and our mission is to take care that the people not only remain united, but become witnesses of the Gospel 'That they may all be one. ... 
I recognize in your 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.
This strongly suggests to me that the Pope may turn to him for advice on matters American. As a member of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Wuerl will continue to help choose American bishops.

The New York Times says today:
In an interview, Cardinal Wuerl said that he would continue to live in Washington and that he expected to keep his position in Vatican offices that exert great influence, including one that advises the pope on the appointment of bishops..... 
Cardinal Wuerl initially tried to defend himself from charges in the Pennsylvania report, posting an online rebuttal on that was quickly taken down after drawing criticism and ridicule.
..[Cardinal Wuerl's] situation — of resigning under a cloud while maintaining Vatican power and status — recalls what happened to former Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston. After resigning in disgrace as archbishop in 2002, Cardinal Law kept his position on the Congregation for Bishops for a while, then lived out his years in Rome, where he was warmly welcomed at Vatican ceremonies and given an important basilica in Rome as his titular church.
Meanwhile the DC attorney general is said to be likely to investigate the way Cardinals McCarrick and Wuerl dealt with crimes by priests.

Damian Thompson‏ Editor of the Catholic Herald in England, tweeted
“Tone-deaf” is a charitable description of Francis’s letter to Wuerl. It’s not going down well at all. 
Christopher Altieri, writing in the Catholic Herald, says:
By accepting Wuerl’s resignation, but also keeping him on as Apostolic Administrator, the Pope shows he is working to a particular modus operandi.
There seem to be three basic steps: (1) ignore criticism and impugn critics’ motives; (2) when that becomes impracticable make a big show of doing something, without actually doing much of anything; (3) if necessary, remove a high-profile figure, but not really.
Fewer and fewer talented men enter the priesthood, though some very saintly men do. The saintly ones are usually not bishop material. Most bishops have the abilities of middle managers in insurance companies. 

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were men who would have distinguished themselves in any calling. Most bishops and cardinals in the developed world are not distinguished, as we see.


  1. He'll also be eligible to elect the new pope til he's 80.