After Pope Blames the Devil for Catholic Abuse Scandals, Many Push Back

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.

Simultaneously, Wuerl faced widespread skepticism over his insistence that he knew nothing about years of alleged sexual misconduct by McCarrick. Francis has said the devil is ultimately behind sex abuse of children by priests and current divisions in the Church.

Francis also asked Wuerl to stay on as administrator until another archbishop is appointed.

"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", Cardinal Wuerl wrote in a September 11 letter to the priests of his archdiocese. However, the cardinal added, "I told you verbally of the situation of the bishop emeritus who was to observe certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past". "When Archbishop Carlo Viganò wrote that Cardinal Wuerl "lies shamelessly" in his "testimony" published in late August, it confirmed conclusions that many Washington priests had already arrived at".

Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as a cardinal in July after a USA church investigation determined that an allegation that he groped a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible.

Wuerl wrote in a letter that he asked priests to share at Mass this weekend that "I am sorry for all of you, faithful members of the church, who have had to face the shame of these scandals and witness doubt and perplexity among your family and friends".

In one case cited in the report, Wuerl - acting on a doctor's recommendation - enabled priest William O'Malley to return to active ministry as a canonical consultant in 1998 despite allegations of abuse lodged against him in the past and his own admission that he was sexually interested in adolescents.

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"The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues", a statement from the Vatican said, The New York Times reported "However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead'".

Wuerl, who turns 78 in November, technically tendered his resignation upon reaching age 75, as all Catholic bishops and cardinals do. He joined the priesthood in 1966, was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1986, and served briefly as auxiliary bishop in Seattle before going to Pittsburgh.

After stepping down as archbishop of Washington in 2006, McCarrick "had been strongly advised not to travel and not to appear in public, so as not to provoke additional rumours in his regard".

The ex-cardinal was reportedly sexually active with seminarians and was punished by Pope Benedict XVI.

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

Wuerl's archdiocese issued a series of similar plaudits on Friday, coinciding with the Vatican announcement.

On Labor Day, Wuerl met with the priests in his archdiocese.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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