Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican-based Congregation for Bishops, issued a public three-page letter on October 7 censuring the former Vatican nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, for attacking Pope Francis.
Cardinal Ouellet's letter marked the Vatican's first direct response to Archbishop Vigano's 11-page denunciation on August 26 in which he accused two dozen Vatican and USA church officials of covering up for McCarrick, and demanded Francis's resignation over his role in the scandal.
Pope Francis called on Catholics to pray for the church last week, saying that the devil is trying to divide it as cases of sexual abuse from around the world continue to make headlines. "Of this, I am proud and thank you", Francis wrote in the letter. But he wrote: "You can not end your priestly life in an open and scandalous rebellion that inflicts a painful wound" on the church and divides its people.
The cardinal, president of the USCCB, is in Rome for the Synod of Bishops.
"Repent of your revolt", the cardinal wrote before asking, "How can you celebrate the holy Eucharist and pronounce his (the pope's) name in the canon of the Mass?"
In a letter by the pope released in Washington, Francis indicated that he accepted the resignation reluctantly and at Wuerl's insistence.
The statement added that "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".
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Cardinal Ouellet's letter was issued a day after Francis authorised a "thorough study" of all Vatican archives into how McCarrick rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church despite allegations he sexually preyed on seminarians and young priests.
Vigano claimed he told Francis during a June 23, 2013, meeting that Pope Benedict XVI had sanctioned McCarrick to a lifetime of penance and prayer for having "corrupted a generation of seminarians and priests".
Wuerl has not been charged with any wrongdoing but was named numerous times in the grand jury report, which details instances in which he allowed priests accused of misconduct to be reassigned or reinstated.
As for the written instructions the Congregation for Bishops prepared for Archbishop Vigano in 2011 when he was to begin his service as nuncio to the United States, "they say nothing at all about McCarrick".
"Your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence". 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.
"Out of respect for the victims and given the need for justice, the inquiry now underway in the United States and in the Roman Curia should provide a comprehensive and critical study of the procedures and the circumstances of this painful case in order to prevent something like it from ever happening in the future", Cardinal Ouellet said.