Pope Francis Accepts Cardinal Wuerl's Resignation

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In his letter to Wuerl, the Pope merely mentioned "some mistakes" the Cardinal had made regarding abusive priests, indicating that he did not believe the former archbishop had covered up or ignored abuse.

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

The archdiocese also announced the pope has named Cardinal Wuerl as apostolic administrator to oversee the archdiocese until a successor is named. In it, the pope praised the cardinal's "nobility" in choosing to resign, saying "you make clear the intent to put God's Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church".

"Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon", he said.

The report criticised Cardinal Wuerl for his role in concealing the abuse.

Cardinal Wuerl asked Pope Francis to accept his resignation on several occasions since the Pennsylvania report, but the pope demurred until now, according to a church official with knowledge of the discussions.

Cardinal Wuerl replaced Cardinal McCarrick as Washington's archbishop after he retired in 2006.

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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.

Francis ordered McCarrick to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after American Church officials said as part of a separate investigation that allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago were credible and substantiated. While Wuerl was not accused of committing any abuse himself, he was accused of covering up evidence of abuse, authorizing settlements with victims in return for their silence, and moving accused priests to new parishes instead of punishing them.

After his resignation was announced October 12, Cardinal Wuerl said in a statement: "Once again for any past errors in judgment, I apologize and ask for pardon". In this capacity, Wuerl attended the 1978 conclave that elected Pope St. John Paul II as an aide to the ailing Cardinal Wright. Francis has said the devil is ultimately behind sex abuse of children by priests and current divisions in the Church.

The report said he had allowed accused priests to be reassigned or reinstated. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1966 and went on to receive a doctorate in 1974.

The Catholic Church in the United States had already been shaken by the resignation of former archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick in July.

And as a member of the Congregation for Bishops, Wuerl will still shape the American church for decades to come by helping to pick its bishops. He'll be in charge in the DC archdiocese until the Vatican appoints a new archbishop to replace him. Pope Benedict elevated then-Archbishop Wuerl to the College of Cardinals in November 2010, shortly after Wuerl's 70th birthday. Wuerl was in Washington on Friday morning.

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". "Whether people want to defend him or not for Pittsburgh, the Church has still been severely damaged".

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