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Pope accepts Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation

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VATICAN CITY, October 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl from his position as the Archbishop of Washington, DC.

This morning the Archdiocese of Washington released an English translation of a letter of Pope Francis to Cardinal Wuerl accepting his resignation “from the pastoral government of the Archdiocese of Washington.”

The letter reveals that the Holy Father had received a request from the cardinal on September 21 to be released from his office. Wuerl arrived in Rome on September 17 to discuss his resignation.

Pope Francis said that he was aware that Wuerl’s request “rests on two pillars” in his ministry: “to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care.”  He observed that their shared mission is “to take care that the people not only remain united, but become witnesses of the Gospel.”  (Full “unofficial courtesy translation” from the Archdiocese of Washington published below.)

Returning to his frequent theme of “the father of lies,” on whom he blames the current unrest in the Church regarding clerical sexual abuse and episcopal cover-up, Francis insinuated that Wuerl is a victim. He discerned in Wuerl’s request “the heart of the shepherd...who prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity 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.”

The Holy Father made it clear in the letter that he believes Wuerl did not cover up abuse but merely made some mistakes. He wrote:

You have sufficient elements to “justify” your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.

Francis clearly believes that it would be good for the Church if Wuerl stayed on as the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. and praised Wuerl further for not defending himself.   

He wrote, “In this way, you make clear the intent to put God’s Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church. Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church.”

Francis asked Wuerl to administrate the Archdiocese until his successor is appointed. The Wall Street Journal stated today that “Church officials” have indicated possible candidates are Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn, and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego.

Wuerl had originally resigned on his 75th birthday, Nov. 12, 2015, as is the custom among Catholic bishops. However, all resignations have to be accepted by the reigning pontiff, and delaying acceptance is considered a pontifical sign of approval.

The Cardinal has been a figure of much contention since June, however, because of his relationship to disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and his role in handling clerical sexual abuse cases as Bishop of Pittsburgh.

Wuerl also released a statement today, saying, that  “the Holy Father’s decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future. It permits this local Church to move forward.”

“Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon,” he said. “My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the Church of Washington.”

 

UNOFFICIAL COURTESY TRANSLATION

 

To our Venerable Brother

Card. DONALD WILLIAM WUERL

Archbishop of Washington

 

On September 21st I received your request that I accept your resignation from the pastoral government of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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 wellbeing 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, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (Jn 17.21). This is the horizon from which we are continually invited to discern all our actions.

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 (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 235), 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 (cf. Mt 26.31).

You have sufficient elements to “justify” your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.

In this way, you make clear the intent to put God’s Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church. Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church.

In accepting your resignation, I ask you to remain as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until the appointment of your successor.

Dear brother, I make my own the words of Sirach: “You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost” (2.8). May the Virgin Mary protect you with her mantle and may the strength of the Holy Spirit give you the grace to know how to continue to serve him in this new time that the Lord gives you.

Vatican City, October 12, 2018

Francesco

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