Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl today, while asking the cardinal to continue leading the Archdiocese of Washington on an interim basis until a permanent successor is appointed.
In a letter to Wuerl obtained by CNA today, Pope Francis told the cardinal: “Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church.”
“In accepting your resignation, I ask you to remain as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until the appointment of your successor.”
Wuerl, 77, originally submitted his resignation on November 12, 2015, when he turned 75 years old, as required by canon law.
The Pope said that he had also received a September 21 request from Wuerl that his resignation be accepted.
“This request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care,” Pope Francis wrote.
In the October 12 letter accepting Wuerl’s resignation, Francis defended the cardinal from the widespread criticism he has faced in recent months.
“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.”
“However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence. Of this, I am proud and thank you.”
“Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church,” he added.
In an October 12 statement, Wuerl wrote that “the Holy Father’s decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future. It permits this local Church to move forward.”
“Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the Church of Washington.”
The cardinal has been the subject of criticism since late June, when revelations about alleged sexual misconduct on the part of his predecessor, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, raised questions about what Wuerl knew about McCarrick, and how he responded to that knowledge.
Catholic News Agency (CNA)