Cardinal Wuerl Claims Pope Is Under ‘Concentrated Attack’

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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  • Cardinal Donald Wuerl sent a letter to priests concerning the recent sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church
  • Wuerl called for parishioners’ support and claimed that Pope Francis is under attack in the wake of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s letter accusing the pontiff of covering for Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
  • Wuerl’s letter comes amid a growing call from D.C. Catholics and sex abuse survivors for his immediate removal as archbishop in light of the Pennsylvania sex abuse report

Catholic Cardinal Donald Wuerl issued a letter to priests Thursday expressing solidarity with parishioners pained by scandals and claiming Pope Francis is under “concentrated attack.”

The archbishop of Washington issued the letter amid increasing calls from sex abuse survivors and prominent D.C. Catholics for his resignation, in light of his mention in the Pennsylvania sex abuse report and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s allegation that he covered up former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s alleged abuses. Wuerl asked priests to let their parishioners know that he sympathized with them and to ask them to support him. (RELATED: Group In Charge Of Advising US Catholic Church On Abuse Calls For Lay-Led Investigation Of All Allegations)

Wuerl wrote:

This Sunday in our churches all across this great archdiocese, I ask you please to let your people – the men, women and children – we love and minister to and hold in our pastoral care know that I do recognize and share their pain.

Let them know I wish I could wipe it away even though that is simply not possible. I would give anything, as would all of us, to turn the clock around and have the Church do everything right. But I do join them in sorrow for all that has happened. I plead for their prayerful support as I with you and them try to do whatever I can to help move this Church closer to the pathway that leads us from this darkness.

Wuerl also admonished priests to pray for Francis, who he said was under attack in light of Vigano’s recently published letter, in which Vigano accused Francis and 32 other high-ranking church officials of covering for McCarrick.

“Finally, we need to hold close in our prayers and loyalty our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Increasingly, it is clear that he is the object of concentrated attack. At each Mass we pray for him by name. As we do so with our voices may we do so as well with our hearts,” he added.

Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington; Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University; and faculty in Holy Trinity School in Georgetown have all called for Wuerl’s immediate removal, as have sex abuse survivors.

“As a Catholic, my personal opinion is that Cardinal Wuerl should step aside in light of the sex abuse allegations in the Pennsylvania report and increasing reports of more abuse survivors,” Racine said, according to CNN.

Racine also said that his office was prepared to take action if necessary in the course of reviewing Pennsylvania’s sex abuse findings.

Wuerl and the archdiocese of Washington adamantly denied that the archbishop had any knowledge of McCarrick’s alleged abuses until the media publicized them. Critics have cast doubt on that claim, alleging that he must have known about the financial settlements McCarrick made to two of the seminarians who claimed he abused them.

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