A Washington deacon publicly demanded Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s resignation, saying that there would be no “genuine healing” for abuse survivors until he stepped down.
Deacon James Garcia’s letter to Wuerl, dated Sept. 4, went public on a sexual abuse survivor advocate’s blog Saturday, just as members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests prepared for a Sunday protest at the Vatican’s D.C. Embassy to continue to the call for Wuerl’s resignation. Garcia’s letter also came just one day after the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle announced that Wuerl would be hosting a Mass of healing for sexual abuse victims on September 14. (RELATED: Man Slams Cardinal Wuerl In The Middle Of Mass Over Abuse Cover-Up, ‘Shame On You’)
Garcia said that, in view of the allegations against Wuerl and the current sexual abuse crisis, he cannot attend Mass with Wuerl.
“Most Reverend Father, in view of recent developments, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to attend to you personally, whether as an assisting deacon or a master of ceremony,” Garcia wrote.
“If you genuinely ‘hope to lead by action, not just by words,’ and ‘do whatever it takes to move this Church closer to the pathway that leads us from this darkness,’ courage and humility are essential. Consistent with the sentiments expressed above, I implore you, for the good of the church we both love so dearly: Act with courage and humility. Relinquish your position without delay,” he added.
Celebrating a Mass for victims of sexual abuse would not be enough to bring healing to those victims or to the wounds the church has suffered as a whole, according to Garcia. The only thing Wuerl could do to bring healing, he argued, would be to resign.
“I am firmly convinced that genuine healing, first and foremost of the victims of sexual abuse, but also for the church more broadly, requires precisely this response from you,” he wrote. “I am firmly convinced that justice demands nothing less.”
Garcia did not reserve his ire only for Wuerl, however, and called out bishops and other clergy who failed in “safeguarding the faithful” by allowing for abuses to continue.
“The time for cowardice and self-preservation is long past. Victims cry out for justice and the faithful deserve shepherds who are not compromised,” Garcia wrote. “Apology and accompaniment are critical. But no amount of apology will suffice unless and until bishops and other complicit clergy are removed or resign.”
Garcia joins a host of prominent D.C. Catholics who have called for Wuerl’s resignation in light of the accusations against him in the Pennsylvania grand jury report and allegations that he covered up abuse allegations against Theodore McCarrick. Those who have demanded his resignation include Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, faculty in Holy Trinity School in Georgetown, and sex abuse survivors.
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