Pope accepts Washington cardinal's resignation amid scandal

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These "mistakes" led to at least two suicides committed by young men sexually abused by a priest under Wuerl when he was bishop of Pittsburgh, and the loss of innocence for scores of minors sexually exploited by priests under Wuerl, as well as the loss of faith of countless people shepherded by members of the homosexual network allowed to thrive under Wuerl.

A Vatican statement Friday said Francis had accepted Wuerl's resignation, but named no replacement; in his letter, the pope asked him to stay on in a temporary capacity until a new archbishop is found and implied he was accepting the resignation reluctantly.

He added: "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you", the pope wrote. Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon.

Francis ordered McCarrick to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after American Church officials said as part of a separate investigation that allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.

What did the pope's letter say?

They included a letter from the archdiocesan chancellor, Kim Vitti Fiorentino, who lamented that Wuerl's "pioneering leadership in the enhancement, implementation and enforcement of historically innovative child protection policies was overshadowed by the (Pennsylvania grand jury) report's flaws and its interpretation by the media".

However, the grand jury documented other cases where accused priests in Pittsburgh were allowed to return to parish work.

In August, the state of Pennsylvania released a grand jury report connected to abuse in the Catholic Church. "The cardinal did so in early September and soon after announced that he would be asking Pope Francis to accept his resignation..."

Edward McFadden, a spokesman for Wuerl, said that during the cardinal's 12 years in Washington, "not a single priest of the Archdiocese of Washington has faced a credible claim, and there is not today a single priest in ministry in Washington who has faced a credible claim".

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It has been widely believed that Cardinal Wuerl hoped to remain in his position at least until the fall meeting of the US bishops' conference in November. 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.

The confirmation of the Cardinal's resignation comes weeks after his request following the release of a 900-page report detailing 1,000's of cases of sex abuse and misconduct.

Born in Pittsburgh on November 12, 1940, Wuerl was ordained a priest in 1966 and later served as secretary to Pittsburgh Bishop John Wright, even following him to Rome when the bishop was named head of the Vatican's clergy dicastery and made a cardinal.

Wuerl initially tried to defend himself from charges in the Pennsylvania report, posting an online rebuttal on TheWuerlRecord.com that was quickly taken down after drawing criticism and ridicule.

He arrived in Pittsburgh, a possible steppingstone to greater things, in 1988, just as the diocese had removed two priests accused of molesting altar boys.

Wuerl was born in Pittsburgh, attended Catholic University and received a doctorate in theology from the University of Saint Thomas in Rome.

Cardinal Wuerl's episcopal career appears to be ending in as much controversy as it began when he became an auxiliary bishop in Seattle in 1986.

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