Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, said that he would travel to Rome to meet with Pope Francis to discuss his possible resignation, according to a signed letter he sent to local priests.
“I intend, in the very near future, to go to Rome to meet with our Holy Father about the resignation I presented nearly three years ago, November 12, 2015,” Wuerl said in a letter to the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington on Tuesday.
Wuerl has been criticized in recent weeks on how he handled the sexual abuse allegations against priests in Pittsburgh diocese. The archbishop had earlier written to priests and defended himself as the 900-page child sex abuse report had questioned his actions as a former longtime bishop of Pittsburgh.
There have been calls within the archdiocese in the recent weeks asking Wuerl to step down following the release of a grand jury report in Pennsylvania which revealed allegations of sexual abuse by more than 300 priests across the state over a period of seven decades.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl will meet with #PopeFrancis to discuss his resignation after a report showed massive sexual abuse under Cardinal Wuerl's watch. More than 80,000 have signed this petition urging Wuerl be held accountable #CatholicChurch #ChurchAbuse https://t.co/RhviMTiO64
— Change.org (@Change) September 12, 2018
Wuerl had contended that he acted diligently to protect children as bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years before leading Washington’s prominent archdiocese in 2006.
Wuerl said he’d presented the resignation to the Pope three years ago, at the age of 75, the mandatory age for Catholic bishops to submit their retirement to the Pope.
“At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these terrible actions and have questions about their bishop’s ability to provide the necessary leadership,” Wuerl wrote in the letter to the local priests.
“All he’s saying is the discernment process has ended. And at some point in the future he’ll meet with the Holy Father and discuss the resignation he submitted three years ago,” said Ed McFadden, Wuerl’s spokesman.