United States cardinal resigns amid accusations of church sex abuse cover-up

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Cardinal Wuerl, 77, had offered to resign on September 21 after facing strong criticism over a report detailing mass sexual abuse cases when he was a bishop in Pennsylvania. In accepting his resignation now, Francis asked that Wuerl remain as the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

"However", Francis' letter added, "your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologise and ask for pardon". The report mentioned Wuerl's name more than 200 times.

Wuerl was also named prominently in the 11-page denunciation of the McCarrick cover-up that was penned by the Vatican's former ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who accused a long line of U.S. and Vatican churchmen of turning a blind eye to McCarrick's penchant for sleeping with seminarians. It named over 300 accused Catholic clergymen.

Shapiro spoke at a news conference after urging the state Senate to pass legislation allowing sex-abuse victims to sue in old cases they now can't pursue because of the statute of limitations.

On Saturday, Francis ordered an investigation into the Vatican archives over the allegations.

The pope goes on to extol Wuerl's move as that of a "shepherd" who, "by widening his vision to recognize a greater good that can benefit the whole body, 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". He said he acted with "diligence with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse".

Wuerl, who is considered a moderate and a supporter of Francis' style of papacy, spoke in the interview about the constructive role he hoped to play at the annual meeting of American bishops in November. In this capacity, Wuerl attended the 1978 conclave that elected Pope St. John Paul II as an aide to the ailing Cardinal Wright. For his part, Bishop Wuerl was sent back to his native Pittsburgh, where he was installed as the diocesan bishop in March 1988.

Patty Fortney-Julius, one of five sisters from central Pennsylvania who have accused their now-dead parish priest of sexually abusing them as children, also voiced frustrations.

The report said he had allowed accused priests to be reassigned or reinstated.

On a personal note, I convey my gratitude to Cardinal Wuerl for the fraternal support he has extended to me from the moment I was appointed bishop and throughout the years. He'll be in charge in the DC archdiocese until the Vatican appoints a new archbishop to replace him. And the cardinal will stay on as the "Apostolic Administrator" of Washington in the short term until a new archbishop is chosen.

Wuerl's archdiocese issued a series of plaudits Friday, coinciding with the Vatican announcement. He has served on a number of Vatican congregations, councils and commissions, as well as numerous national and worldwide organizations such as the Papal Foundation and various committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He then moved to the Diocese of Washington D.C. and was eventually named a Cardinal in the Catholic Church.

Edward McFadden, a spokesman for Wuerl, said that during the cardinal's 12 years in Washington, "not a single priest of the Archdiocese of Washington has faced a credible claim, and there is not today a single priest in ministry in Washington who has faced a credible claim". Wuerl has defended his overall record in Pittsburgh.

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