Pa. AG: Cardinal faces no penalties by resigning
Amid unfolding sex-abuse scandals, Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington. But the pope’s gentle words and lack of condemnation angered those who feel top Catholic leaders continue to shirk responsibility for the global crisis.
Among those frustrated by the pope’s announcement Friday was Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who oversaw a grand jury report issued in August on rampant sex abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses. The report accused Wuerl of helping to protect some child-molesting priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.
“It is unacceptable that then-Bishop Wuerl ... oversaw and participated in the systematic cover-up that he did when leading the Pittsburgh Diocese and that he is now able to retire seemingly with no consequences for his actions,” Shapiro said. “We can’t rely on the church to fix itself.”
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.
Wuerl had offered his resignation as archbishop in late 2015, after he turned 75. Pope Francis accepted the offer Friday, but asked Wuerl to stay on temporarily until a replacement is found and suggested he had unfairly become a scapegoat and victim of the mounting outrage over the abuse scandal.
Wuerl, who turns 78 in November, initially played down the grand jury report and defended his own record, but eventually concluded he should no longer lead the archdiocese.