Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Vatican announced Friday.
“Once again for any past errors in judgment, I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the church of Washington,” Wuerl said in a statement.
Wuerl has been accused of covering up sexual abuse to protect clergy members and reassigning accused priests to new posts without punishment, effectively letting them off the hook for their alleged abuse. The 77-year-old Cardinal was at the center of a Pennsylvania grand jury’s findings that priests had abused more than 300 minors over a 70 year period. Wuerl was the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006 during the height of the sexual abuse. He then took over the archdiocese of Washington, where he denied knowing that his predecessor, disgraced Cardinal and former Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was suspected of abusing young men in the seminary.
“I am profoundly grateful for his devoted commitment to the well-being of the archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding,” Wuerl said of Pope Francis, who is embattled in his own right.
Francis has directed clergy to remain silent “like Jesus on Good Friday,” and likened accusers to the devil.
Thirteen state’s attorneys general have requested all documents from their Catholic dioceses pertaining to sexual abuse and coverups within the church.
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