Pope Accepts Cardinal Wuerl’s Resignation Amid Sex Abuse Cover-Up Scandal

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Cardinal Donald Wuerl became the most prominent leader in the US Catholic Church to resign amid an ongoing scandal concerning sexual abuse by clergy and a massive cover-up by church leaders.

"What's moving (Cardinal Wuerl) is his priests telling him that he's lost credibility with them", McGuire said.

The Pittsburgh native spent more than 50 years climbing the ranks of the Catholic Church, building a reputation as a loyal churchman and scrupulous teacher.

On a personal note, I convey my gratitude to Cardinal Wuerl for the fraternal support he has extended to me from the moment I was appointed bishop and throughout the years.

Wuerl called the pope's letter a "very, very beautiful" recognition and noted that this decision will "permit this local church to move forward".

Addressing Archbishop Vigano as "dear brother", Cardinal Ouellet said, "I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you can not conclude your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion". He served briefly as auxiliary bishop in Seattle before going to Pittsburgh. The appointment generated serious conflict among Archbishop Hunthausen's supporters, and Bishop Wuerl was relieved of his responsibility in 1987. "I always grew up close to the church", she said. In this capacity, Wuerl attended the 1978 conclave that elected Pope St. John Paul II as an aide to the ailing Cardinal Wright.

Born in Pittsburgh on November 12, 1940, Wuerl was ordained a priest in 1966 and later served as secretary to Pittsburgh Bishop John Wright, even following him to Rome when the bishop was named head of the Vatican's clergy dicastery and made a cardinal.

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In the 1990s Cardinal Wuerl hosted the television program, The Teaching of Christ.

By late August, almost 80,000 people had signed a Change.org petition urging Pope Francis to remove Cardinal Wuerl from his post as archbishop of Washington, DC.

"Repent of your revolt", the cardinal wrote before asking, "How can you celebrate the holy Eucharist and pronounce his (the pope's) name in the canon of the Mass?"

Early Friday morning, when the resignation they had hoped for was announced, these faithful Catholic activists weren't sure how to feel.

"In the letter, written in French, Card Ouellet describes the accusation made by the former nuncio to Washington as "incomprehensible and extremely deplorable" as well as incredible and unlikely from many points of view". That session is expected to focus on the fallout of the recent sexual abuse crises, and the cardinal was said to want to play an active part in helping the Church respond.

Ouellet said it was "false" that Pope Francis had removed the sanctions imposed on McCarrick by former Pope Benedict, who ordered McCarrick to devote himself to a life of prayer and was banished from ministry. He was often the glue holding a divided bishops' conference in America together, and he was also the most important interpreter and ally of Pope Francis in a sometimes-skeptical Catholic culture in the US.

Ouellet said in all his meetings with Francis about bishop nominations, he never heard him once refer to McCarrick as a trusted counselor.