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Washington's Cardinal Donald Wuerl processes in for Mass at a March for Life Youth Rally, 2015. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

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Cdl. Wuerl mounts PR offensive in face of horrific PA grand jury report on clerical sex abuse

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WASHINGTON, DC, August 15, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – As the Pennsylvania Attorney General announced the results of an exhaustive, nearly 900 page grand jury investigation into sexual abuse by hundreds of Catholic priests, former Bishop of Pittsburgh, Cardinal Donald J. Wuerl, released a statement calling attention to three words he says are unfairly attributed to him. 

At the same time, the Archdiocese of Washington (ADW) has launched a slick PR-driven website – The Wuerl Record – which appears to serve no other purpose than to protect the embattled Wuerl’s reputation.    

Cardinal Wuerl needs to resign. Sign the petition here.

Over the last few years, current and former ADW employees have reported that the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center has trimmed its staff and important programs while beefing up its legal department. Perhaps we now know why.

The sweeping two-year long grand jury probe reveals sexual abuse against mostly adolescent males, with victims numbering perhaps well into the thousands over the course of several decades.  

Page after page of the report documents gut-wrenching sexual manipulation of young men and boys by priests.  

“Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith, and used it as a tool of their abuse,” noted Pennsylvania Attorney General (AG) Josh Shapiro at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “These children surrounded by adults enabling their abuse were taught that this abuse was not only normal, but that it was holy.” 

The report alleges a long-standing strategy of “abuse – deny – cover up” by the six Pennsylvania dioceses that were the subject of the investigation: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

Wuerl’s name shows up in the document just over 200 times. 

“The pattern not only victimized children who were abused, it served a legal purpose: Church officials manipulated for their advantage,” noted AG Shapiro. “The longer they covered it up, the less chance law enforcement could prosecute [priest] predators, because the statute of limitations would run out.”

The report attributes a handwritten notation, “circle of secrecy,” on one of the uncovered documents to then-Bishop Wuerl. Wuerl headed the Pittsburgh diocese from 1988 until 2006, when he replaced now-disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in the nation’s capital.  

An ADW spokesman said that “portions of the Grand Jury’s Report … dramatically, disparagingly and, most importantly, incorrectly attributed the phrase ‘circle of secrecy,’” to Wuerl.  

Despite informing the Pennsylvania AG that the Diocese of Pittsburgh had “independently confirmed that Bishop Wuerl did not author or use the phrase ‘circle of secrecy,’” in May, and that “the phrase did not relate in any way to efforts by the Church to cover up allegations of abuse,” the AG “refused to acknowledge the mistake and refused to take any steps to correct the dramatic use and misattribution of the phrase in the Report.”  

While those three words may have been incorrectly attributed to Cardinal Wuerl, many troubling stories involving Wuerl in the Grand Jury report remain – and the ADW does not seem to be contesting those. 

A Church Militant analysis reveals that “Cdl. Donald Wuerl, former bishop of Pittsburgh, not only shuffled around notorious predator priests —  including one involved in a sadomasochistic pederast ring — he even paid one off in exchange for his silence.”

In one of the stories chronicling the abuses by three of the Pittsburgh Dioceses’ notorious pederast priests, the Associated Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported: 

Washington County District Attorney John Pettit, filed the sexual abuse charges against three Roman Catholic priests for allegedly molesting two brothers who were altar boys, and accused the church of foot -dragging during the investigation. 'It was not the spirit of cooperation we would like to see,' Pettit said, calling it 'minimal at best.'

Pittsburgh Bishop Donald W. Wuerl denied the allegation, saying, 'I think the diocese has made every effort to be cooperative.'

. . .

In more than 150 counts, Pettit alleged that the priests sexually abused the two boys from 1981 to 1987. The homosexual acts allegedly took place in a barn, a church basement, a parked car and at a mountain resort.

. . .

Some of the incidents involved whips, chains, drugs and alcohol, Pettit said. 



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Doug Mainwaring

Doug Mainwaring is a journalist for LifeSiteNews, an author, and a marriage, family and children's rights activist.  He has testified before the United States Congress and state legislative bodies, originated and co-authored amicus briefs for the United States Supreme Court, and has been a guest on numerous TV and radio programs.  Doug and his family live in the Washington, DC suburbs.