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Washington, D.C. newspapers: ‘Cardinal Wuerl must go’

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Cardinal Wuerl needs to resign. Sign the petition here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Two Washington, D.C. newspapers have published articles calling for Cardinal Donald Wuerl to resign as fallout from the Pennsylvania grand jury report continues.

The grand jury report details a number of clerical sex abuse cases that intersected with Wuerl’s tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh. He is being criticized for allowing predatory priests to remain in active ministry, shuffling them between dioceses and parishes.

On August 16, the American Enterprise Institute’s Marc Thiessen wrote an opinion piece titled Cardinal Wuerl must go for the Washington Post.

“Wuerl, who served as the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, did discipline some priests — and even went to the Vatican to fight an order that he reinstate one,” Thiessen acknowledged. “But the grand jury also wrote that he reassigned other predator priests — including the one who ‘groomed’ [victim] George and introduced him to the [pedophile] ring that photographed him.”

“In at least one case, Wuerl required a victim to sign a ‘confidentiality agreement’ barring him from discussing his abuse with any third party as part of a settlement,” he continued. “That is a coverup. In addition, the grand jury also wrote that under his leadership the diocese failed to report allegations of abuse to law enforcement, advocated for a convicted predator at sentencing, and then provided a $11,542.68 lump-sum payment to the disgraced priest after his release from prison.”

Comments that Wuerl made about his predecessor Theodore McCarrick – who resigned from the College of Cardinals after he was revealed to have been a serial abuser of priests, seminarians, and boys – have also come under fire.

“I don’t think this is some massive, massive crisis,” Wuerl said. “It was a terrible disappointment.”

“Excuse me, Your Eminence? It is a massive, massive crisis,” responded Thiessen. “How was McCarrick allowed to rise through the hierarchy despite the countless warnings to both his fellow bishops and the Vatican that he was a sexual predator? Who knew? Who helped him?”

“The same conspiracy of silence that allowed sexual predators to flourish in Wuerl’s Pittsburgh diocese for decades also allowed McCarrick to become, until just a few weeks ago, one of the most powerful American cardinals, even in retirement,” he continued.

Also on August 16, the Washington Examiner published an opinion piece titled For the church's and the nation's sake, Cardinal Wuerl must go. The byline on that article is “Washington Examiner,” suggesting it represents the sentiment of the paper’s editorial board.

“In three cases, the grand jury report suggests Wuerl either obfuscated or kept quiet records of abuse by priests under his supervision in Pittsburgh,” the Washington Examiner observed. “One former priest, Rev. George Zirwas, was known to be part of a ring of priests who had exploited and raped teenage boys. Zirwas’s co-conspirators were convicted of their abuse during Wuerl’s first year, and fresh reports about Zirwas’s abuse of boys trickled in during Wuerl’s tenure there. Nevertheless, Wuerl moved him around to four different parishes before finally removing him.”

That paper also blasted Wuerl for what he said about his predecessor: “‘Disappointment’ was the label he gave to the news that a prince of the church and a papal confidant had hosted gay sex parties, into which he recruited the aspiring priests in his charge.”

The Examiner criticized Wuerl for sounding “like a corporate spokesman” and not expressing “anger at the behavior of McCarrick, or of the priests he oversaw in Pittsburgh, or whoever may have hid from him the truth of these men’s behavior. He has not acknowledged or addressed the anger of the average layman at our clergy.”

Wuerl is not exhibiting “the behavior of a good shepherd looking out for his sheep, whose friends and families and neighbors and seminarians and priests have been attacked by wolves. This is the behavior of a bureaucrat looking out for the reputation of his office.”

‘Mercy without truth and penance is PR’

Writer Sohrab Ahmari also took bishops to task for their reaction to the grand jury report.

“The most painful aspect of all this is the blasé response of many American hierarchs and especially those, like Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl, who are implicated in the report,” he wrote in the New York Post. “Wuerl and his colleagues have treated the report as a PR headache rather than a moral and spiritual wake-up call. They have acted like corporate reputation managers rather than successors to the Apostles. Instead of venting prophetic anger, they’ve taken refuge behind flacks.”

Ahmari castigated the U.S. episcopacy for its “heavily lawyered blabber” and ripped Wuerl for writing on a now-deleted archdiocesan website in his defense: “While I served as Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and as our understanding of child sexual abuse increased, the Diocese worked to strengthen our response and repeatedly amended the Diocese’s safeguards and policies.”

“That bit about ‘our understanding’ of abuse ‘increasing’ over time is particularly rich, as if the Catholic Church hadn’t prohibited sexual immorality of all kinds for two millennia,” he responded. “Whatever ‘amending’ took place during Wuerl’s time in Pittsburgh wasn’t enough. On his watch, the diocese allowed a predator priest, Ernest Paone, to interact with kids in other states, though cases against him had piled up at the Pittsburgh chancery.”

Ahmari concluded: “These days there is a lot of talk of ‘mercy’ and ‘accompaniment’ in the Roman Church. But these outrages call for a different kind of spirit: the spirit of judgment, the fiery spirit of Saint Paul, who raged against sexual immorality in the early Church in his epistles and consigned those who defiled the people of God to fates worse than excommunication. For mercy without truth and penance is just PR.”

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