United States archbishop criticised over sex abuse resigns with papal praise

Pope Francis appointed him as a member of the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family.

And allegations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy continue to plague the Church with the latest cases in Germany described as "the tip of the iceberg" by Germany's justice minister.

"My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you, the people of the Church of Washington", he said.

However, the grand jury documented other cases where accused priests in Pittsburgh were allowed to return to parish work.

Cardinal Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, stated unequivocally October 7 that now-retired Pope Benedict XVI never imposed sanctions on then-Cardinal McCarrick, so it is untrue that Pope Francis "invalidated" them, as Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former nuncio to the United States, claimed. Called "The Wuerl Record", it was removed after criticism. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August found more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children since 1947.

The Catholic Church must be "saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser", Francis said on September 29.

"In response to your unjust and unjustified attack, dear Vigano, I conclude that your accusation is a political setup without any real foundation that could incriminate the pope, and I repeat that it has profoundly wounded the communion of the church", Ouellet wrote.

Wuerl has not been charged with any wrongdoing but was named numerous times in the grand jury report, which details instances in which he allowed priests accused of misconduct to be reassigned or reinstated. As prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Ouellet meets weekly with Francis to discuss nominations, and presumably would have come to understand if McCarrick had Francis' ear.

On Labor Day, Wuerl met with the priests in his archdiocese.

Wuerl's archdiocese issued a series of similar plaudits on Friday, coinciding with the Vatican announcement. He joined the priesthood in 1966 and was ordained a bishop in 1986 by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

The pope likened Wuerl's resignation request to the "heart of the 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". He also wrote a best-selling adult catechism of the same name, and has since more than 20 other books.

Cardinal Wuerl's episcopal career appears to be ending in as much controversy as it began when he became an auxiliary bishop in Seattle in 1986. The new bishop was charged with special responsibility for five problem areas in the archdiocese: liturgy, the tribunal, priest formation, moral and bioethical issues in Catholic hospitals, and ministry and teaching concerning homosexuality.

Archbishop McCarrick is pictured in a 2001 photo in Washington in Washington.

Wuerl had submitted his resignation to Francis almost three years ago, when he turned 75, the normal retirement age for bishops.

The ex-cardinal was reportedly sexually active with seminarians and was punished by Pope Benedict XVI.

  • Tracy Klein