Fall of a West Virginia Bishop Widens the Catholic Crisis Over Sex Abuse

Fall of a West Virginia Bishop Widens the Catholic Crisis Over Sex Abuse
Embattled Cdl. Wuerl appears resolute in his decision to resign as Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
archdiocese of washington, carlo vigano, catholic, donald wuerl, pope francis, sex abuse crisis in catholic church WASHINGTON, D.C., September 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Donald Wuerl has indicated that he will soon travel to Rome to ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation as Archbishop of Washington, D.C.

“In his Sept. 11 letter to priests,” reads a tweet from the Archdiocese of Washington, “Cardinal Wuerl shared that the best way to serve the Church as it moves into the future will be to meet soon with Pope Francis to request that he accept his resignation that was submitted three years ago.”

On Wednesday, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has called a meeting of presidents from each conference of bishops to discuss new steps to prevent abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The move bypasses the College of Cardinals, at least in form, and puts the field leadership of the church in direct conference with the pontiff rather than filtered through the Vatican curia. The announcement came out ahead of an urgent audience with the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Galveston-Houston archdiocese, as well as other American bishops responding to pressure from their parishioners and the media. At the same time, Cardinal Donald Wuerl — mired in controversy after a Pennsylvania grand jury cited numerous occasions where he failed to act properly when dealing with abusers in the priesthood — will discuss resigning his post at the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., with Pope Francis.

As is customary when Catholic bishops turn 75 years old, Cardinal Wuerl tendered his resignation nearly three years ago, but the Pope did not accept it at that time.

Last week, the embattled prelate acknowledged the growing number of calls for him to resign – some emanating from his own clergy – but had stopped short of saying he was ready to step down.

In recent weeks, the cardinal has faced a barrage of allegations that he mishandled and covered up instances of criminal sexual abuse by priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh.  

On the plus side, this convocation shows that the pontiff recognizes that the abuse scandal involves the entire church, and not just the anglophones. A leaked report from an independent investigation in Germany on the same day as the Vaticans announcement documented over 3,600 victims of sexual abuse over the last 70 years, involving more than 1,600 priests. Many of the records within the church had been “destroyed or manipulated,” according to the report, meaning that the totals for both are likely well north of that mark. By going directly to the conference presidents in what is being called a “personal meeting,” Francis will have the opportunity to get a direct briefing on the scope and depth of the scandal of abuse, and to outline further steps to deal with it.

An exhaustive, nearly 900-page grand jury investigation into sexual abuse by Pennsylvania priests mentions Wuerl over 200 times.

Furthermore, the timing of this convocation seems very odd. Why put off this meeting for five months, especially with the ordinary synod set to start in early October? Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago issued a statement endorsing the February meeting as a demonstration of how serious Pope Francis is “about addressing sexual abuse by clergy as a top priority in the global church.” A five-month wait for a meeting on sexual abuse might seem like lightning speed on Vatican time, but it seems like a stall tactic everywhere else. Thats especially true given the 16 years since the first explosion of scandal from Boston, and even more so in the context of the decades of abuse that took place around the world.

Video: U.S. bishops, Pope Francis discuss sex abuse crisis

In the aftermath of the release of the report, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro accused Wuerl of lying about his involvement, saying that Wuerl’s assertions that he “acted with diligence” were “misleading statements” furthering the cover-up.

The crimes outlined in the Pennsylvania grand jury report are horrifying in a scope and kind that institutional apologies do not sufficiently confront. Announcements by more attorneys general of investigations into their states dioceses should be welcome news to all. The church clearly needs outside help if it has any hope of reforming, and given the fat checks to lobbyists that defend the accused and thwart efforts to deliver justice to victims, one could be forgiven for doubting the hierarchys stomach for change.

Wuerl’s credibility first came into question when he declared that he knew nothing of the abuse settlements paid to sex abuse victims of his predecessor, disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

The Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, then released a scathing testimony which detailed Cardinal Wuerl’s complicity in the McCarrick cover up.

The cardinal’s “recent statements that he knew nothing about it,” said Viganò, “are absolutely laughable. He lies shamelessly.”

In a more recent letter addressed to the priests of Washington, D.C., Wuerl indicated that he intends, “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.”

“It was clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part is an essential aspect” of moving forward, the letter said.

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On Monday, September 3, prior to our annual Labor Day gathering, we had an opportunity to pray together and, as I was asked by our Holy Father Pope Francis, to discern the best course of action for me to pursue as we face new revelations of the extent of the horror of the clergy abuse of children and the failures in episcopal oversight. 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.

Im not entirely sure what Francis is on about here, but I can assure you that the real tragedy of clergy sexual abuse isnt that the people have been scandalized by sin. The tragedy isnt that sin has been uncovered. (Remember: The truth will set you free.) The tragedy is that children had their innocence stolen. The tragedy is that men who were trusted to lead the faithful preyed on children and that Church leaders often covered it up and/or enabled it.

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, November 12, 2015.

In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The Great Accuser, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, roams the earth looking for someone to accuse, the Pope said Tuesday during Mass.

Our discernment here, I believe, has indicated the way forward to bring healing and a new beginning at the service of this Church. I am particularly grateful for your patience and respect for this time of discernment.

Italian Media have unearthed details of the much sought-after secret dossier compiled during the last months of Pope Benedict's pontificate, which names various names, uncovering the homosexual network operating within the Vatican and around the globe.

A bishops strength against the Great Accuser is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction, Francis added. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.

At a time when Francis and his inner circle have already been rocked by a non-stop flow of charges that senior Church officials — including Francis himself — have covered up sexual abuse of minors and young adults abuse mostly homosexual in nature, this latest revelation drops on Rome like a nuclear explosion.

First, Francis said he would not say a single word on allegations he empowered known sexual abusers. Then his spin doctors at the Vatican announced this week that they are still preparing the necessary clarifications to the allegations. (It has been 17 days since Francis was first accused of being complicit in the abuse.)

Church Militant, along with multiple media outlets, reported back in late 2012 that a 300-page dossier revealing the existence of the gay lobby had been delivered to Pope Benedict in response to what had been called the Vatileaks affair.

Three cardinals had been appointed by Benedict to get to the bottom of the leaks and during that investigation, the three cardinals came across credible information about the homosexual lobby in the Vatican and changed the direction of their report accordingly. They presented their final dossier to Pope Benedict in two red leather-bound volumes, and a few months later he resigned.

The announcement follows a terrible summer for the church. In July the pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, who is accused of taking advantage of his position over many years to make sexual advances to seminarians. The following month a grand jury in Pennsylvania published an investigation stretching back seven decades that chronicled in often horrific detail the abuses of more than 300 priests in the state which, it said, their superiors had ignored and covered up. In August, the former papal nuncio, or ambassador, in America, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, alleged that Francis himself had covered up for former Cardinal McCarrick. He called on the pope to resign. Francis initially refused to comment and appeared to think no action was required.

Il Fatto Quotidiano, a respected media outlet has published a story saying they have seen the dossier and it is extensively damaging to the Pope and especially Cdl. Kevin Farrell.

By calling the convention of bishops, the pope has tacitly accepted that that is not going to work. His U-turn is damaging in itself. But potentially far more dangerous is Archbishop Viganòs allegation. It highlights Franciss weakest point—his repeated mishandling of clerical sex-abuse allegations. Earlier this year he vigorously defended a Chilean bishop accused of shielding predators, only to then accept he had made a mistake. Moreover, Archbishop Viganòs intervention has allowed the popes theologically conservative critics to make common cause with those, including many who applaud Franciss liberal reforms, who are dismayed by the popes tone-deafness when it comes to dealing with clerical sex abuse, and especially the failure of bishops to protect victims.

Here are three quotes — translated from the original Italian by Church Militant — from the article detailing very important information about the dossier:

ARCHBISHOP Georg Gänswein, secretary to the last pope, once compared the impact of the sexual-abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to that of 9/11 on the secular world. In the most recent development a study commissioned by the German church, which leaked, found that more than 1,500 clergymen there had for decades been abusing minors. On September 12th Pope Francis responded at last, calling the leaders of every Catholic hierarchy in the world to a conference in Rome to discuss the continuing—indeed, deepening—crisis. The heads of all the worlds Catholic bishops conferences—more than a hundred prelates—will be expected to attend, from February 21st to 24th.

[A case] on the auxiliary bishop of Washington, Kevin Joseph Farrell is said to have been filed at the Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith in the Vatican, at the dicastery that is responsible for investigating sexual and other crimes against good morals, which, if not rebutted, would fall squarely on the Pope like a boulder. Farrell [was] appointed directly by Bergoglio to head the Dicastery of the Family.

Published since September 1843 to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.

That, of course, would directly implicate Pope Francis in promoting yet another man into a position of power when even though he had advance knowledge of moral crimes — the first being Theodore McCarrick, who was the housemate of Cdl. Farrell when they were together in Washington, D.C.

The report contains a detailed and disturbing picture of the moral and material corruption of the clergy, with names, surnames and circumstances. We were exceptionally able to examine a document on papal letterhead contained in the investigative report, whence we here publish an excerpt: it is a list of prelates and laymen who belong to the so-called gay lobby, which, by means of blackmail and secrets, could condition, or have conditioned, positions and careers.

The article explicitly states for the first time it has been revealed on papal letterhead that the Vatican itself admits of a powerful gay lobby within its own walls.

If the public were to become cognizant of the content of the final report, it would be a disaster for the image of the Church, already devastated by sexual scandals throughout the whole world.  … [And now] Francis cannot even count on some of his most powerful friends and supporters, overwhelmed by sex scandals themselves or for having covered up such behavior: from McCarrick to Farrell, from Cardinal Roger Mahony to Cardinal Godfried Danneels.

When the newspaper questioned the Vatican for comment, they were told in yet another stonewalling effort from churchmen, “There will be no communication.”

To show the great fear that has gripped the Vatican as a result, consider the title of the article: “Shock in the Vatican: All the Names on the List of the Gay Lobby.”

Consider that in the space of less than three weeks, the Pope has had his former U.S. ambassador Abp. Viganò publicly testify that the Pope knew about McCarrick's evil and lifted sanctions against him anyway; has worked quietly behind the scenes to formulate as graceful an exit plan as possible for the now disgraced Cdl. Donald Wuerl; had to, just today, announce the retirement of an American bishop credibly accused of sexual immorality; had to meet with a delegation of American cardinals and bishops today who are wanting a full-blown investigation into Viganò's claims about the Pope and other senior churchmen.

And then, of course, this, Pope Francis and his homosexualist cabal in Rome may begin to feel like the walls of the Vatican are starting to close in on them.

It's just after midnight in Rome right now as of this Church Militant live report, and Church Militant will have much more for you tomorrow and in the coming days on this news, which can only be classified as devastating for the Francis pontificate.

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