NORRISTOWN, Pa. • 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 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 bishop of Pittsburgh.
“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.
Shapiro spoke after urging the state Senate to pass legislation allowing sex-abuse victims to sue in old cases.
Wuerl had offered his resignation as archbishop in 2015. 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.
“You have sufficient elements to justify your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes,” Francis wrote to Wuerl. “However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this I am proud and thank you.”