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Petition urging Cardinal Wuerl to step down reaches 5,000

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

Cardinal Wuerl needs to resign. Sign the petition here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – More than 5,000 people have signed a LifeSiteNews-hosted petition asking Cardinal Donald Wuerl to step down for his role in allowing predatory priests to remain in active ministry while he was Bishop of Pittsburgh.

“You failed in your duty as a shepherd,” the petition signatories wrote to Wuerl. “The human cost of your actions and inaction – lives ruined, faith destroyed – is incalculable.”

The Washington Post and the Washington Examiner have both run opinion pieces saying “Cardinal Wuerl must go,” with the latter article coming from the Examiner’s editorial staff.

“One Pittsburgh priest, Father George Zirwas, was reported to the diocese as having molested underage boys. Some of these complaints were filed when Wuerl was bishop,” the petition says.

It notes that the Pennsylvania grand jury found of the Zirwas case: “The Grand Jury learned that the Diocese was aware of complaints against Zirwas for sexually abusing children as early as 1987. Additional complaints were received between 1987 and 1995. However, Zirwas continued to function as a priest during this period and was reassigned to several parishes.”

“Wuerl and diocesan bureaucrats knew about complaints against Fr. Zirwas but let him continue in active ministry, putting more boys at risk for homosexual molestation,” the petition continues. “The grand jury ultimately found that Zirwas had been involved in manufacturing child porn based on religious imagery on Church property. He was part of a group of priests who ‘used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims.’”

The petition also calls attention to the fact that in 1996, after moving away Zirwas told the Diocese of Pittsburgh he knew about illegal sexual activity being committed by other Pittsburgh priests, and in exchange for this information, he wanted the money he was receiving from the Church to be increased.

Wuerl responded saying Zirwas was to either send him the names of these predator priests, or state the exact opposite of what Zirwas had just claimed – that he knew nothing about pedophile priests in the diocese. Zirwas opted to recant his claim, and the amount of money he received monthly increased.

Zirwas was murdered by a male prostitute in Havana, Cuba in 2001.

“He was injected in the neck with an overdose of muscle relaxant,” according to the Miami New Times.

Cardinal Wuerl has technically already submitted his retirement to Pope Francis more than two years ago when he hit the Church’s mandatory retirement age for bishops, 75. Pope Francis could accept it at any time.

Although the embattled cardinal has shown no signs of wanting to leave his post over the grand jury report, he pulled out of appearing at the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families in Dublin this week. Ave Maria Press has also “indefinitely” postponed the publication of Wuerl’s new book, What Do You Want to Know?, which had been scheduled for release on October 5.

Wuerl was scheduled to appear at St. John Neumann parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland on Sunday, August 19 to install its new pastor, but cancelled that on Friday, August 17. He sent Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher in his place. Coincidentally, it was at that parish that Father Marcel Guarnizo in 2012 quietly denied Communion to a woman who told him she was an active lesbian. The Archdiocese of Washington under Wuerl swiftly punished the priest for upholding Catholic doctrine.  

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