On Tuesday, Christmas Day, Cardinal Donald Wuerl was dressed in fine robes and wore a crown-like head covering as he led the mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It was his first major event after months of avoiding the public.
Back in October, Cardinal Wuerl resigned from his position as the archbishop of Washington. Wuerl was among those named in a list released by the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. which included 31 members of the clergy who were “credibly accused” of abusing minors within the last 70 years.
Wuerl submitted his resignation to Pope Francis amid a storm of outrage over what many saw as Wuerl's gross mishandling of cases of abuse under his leadership. Wuerl served as the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, before being named the archbishop of Washington. When a grand jury report in Pennsylvania revealed that more than 300 priests abused children over the past several decades, Wuerl's cover-up of abuse was on full display.
Despite his resignation, and despite all the controversy, Wuerl still led the Christmas Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception this week.
In his homily, Wuerl preached that, “We can truly have peace and goodwill and harmony in this world.”
Yeah, easy for you to say, Donnie, while you continue to stand at the pulpit despite protecting predators for decades.
Pope Francis has not chosen a replacement for Wuerl yet. We should not be too shocked, when accepting Wuerl's resignation, Pope Francis spoke highly of him.
When Wuerl resigned, Pope Francis wrote a letter in which he stated that Wuerl would continue to serve as the day-to-day administrator of the Washington archdiocese until a successor is found. In that same letter, Francis wrote about Wuerl’s “nobility,” citing that as what prompted him to resign, despite Wuerl having “sufficient elements” to justify his actions.
“Of this, I am proud and thank you,” Francis wrote.
Should we really be surprised? I alone have written extensively about the Catholic Church and the abuse of children going on within their ranks, and so this kind of favoritism, with Francis clearly protecting his ally Wuerl, should come as no surprise.
Chris Kane, who attended the Christmas Mass, said, “It does kind of shake your faith when something like that’s been happening for half a century and they haven’t done anything about it. And they knew.”
Well, I would hope so! Thousands of children being abused by hundreds of priests and then those priests being systematically protected by the church SHOULD shake your faith. And considering that representatives of the church so often love to claim the moral high ground, you should be especially shaken, Chris.
We can add this to the long list of the Catholic Church's mishandled cases related to its systemic abuse problem; a problem that is unlikely to get solved any time soon.