A Vatican statement Friday said Francis had accepted Wuerl's resignation, but named no replacement; Wuerl's office said he had been asked to stay on in a temporary capacity until a new archbishop is found.
Earlier today, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, accepted my resignation as Archbishop of Washington that I first offered almost three years ago. Read his beautiful letter and my statement here: https://t.co/iIoPrGgU86
“Those called to serve the Church in a leadership capacity must recognize that we are to lead not only by word, but also by personal action,” Wuerl said in the letter. “We must be prepared to do whatever is needed, including stepping aside. This action on my part is an essential aspect of the healing so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward.”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, will meet with Pope Francis in Rome to discuss his resignation, according to a letter sent to priests on Tuesday.
Wuerl served as bishop of Pittsburgh for nearly two decades. He was mentioned nearly 200 times in the Pennsylvania grand jury report about child sexual abuse. Wuerl is accused of leading a massive cover-up of child sex abuse by priests when he was the bishop of Pittsburgh.
In the letter, Wuerl says, "It was clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part is an essential aspect so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward. As a fruit of our discernment 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."
Wuerl mentioned 2015 in the letter because that's when he turned 75 years old, the age a bishop is required to submit his resignation. It's up to the pope, however, to decide when to accept it.
He mentioned no date for his meeting with the pope, but the pontiff will meet Thursday with U.S. cardinals and bishops.
Last month, Wuerl's name was removed from North Catholic High School in the wake of the report.
“Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient,” said the letter, which the Vatican released Monday. “Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
The letter came less than a week after a grand jury report identified more than 300 priests accused of abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania. According to WPXI, a ring of predatory priests with the Pittsburgh Diocese allegedly shared information on victims and exchanged the victims among themselves, as well as made child pornography on Diocesan property.
In his letter, Pope Francis said Catholics must “acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable.”
He wrote: “Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”