Pope accepts resignation of Cardinal Wuerl amid coverup scandal

Pope accepts resignation of Cardinal Wuerl amid coverup scandal
Pope accepts resignation of cardinal despite calling him a scapegoat in sex abuse scandal
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl after Wuerl became entangled in two major sexual abuse and cover-up scandals and lost the support of many in his flock.

But in a letter released by Wuerl's office, Francis praised his longtime ally and suggested Wuerl had unfairly become a scapegoat, having made some "mistakes" in handling sex abuse cases, but not having covered them up.

Bennett, 56, raised more than $20 million from at least 46 investors in her luxury sportswear company, often preying on elderly clients who knew her from a radio show she hosted in the Washington, D.C., area, authorities have said. They said she used investors' money for her personal benefit, including jewelry purchases, cosmetic medical procedures and a $500,000 annual lease for a luxury suite at the Dallas Cowboys' home stadium.

Pope accepts Donald Wuerls resignation as Washington DC archbishop

With the resignation, Wuerl becomes the most prominent head to roll in the scandal roiling the Catholic Church after his predecessor as Washington archbishop, Theodore McCarrick, was forced to resign as cardinal over allegations he sexually abused at least two minors and adult seminarians.

A Vatican statement Friday said Francis had accepted Wuerl's resignation, but named no replacement; Wuerl's office provided the letter in which the Pope asked him to stay on in a temporary capacity until a new archbishop is found.

The decision came after months in which Wuerl, who turns 78 in November, initially downplayed the scandal, insisted on his own good record, but then progressively came to the conclusion that he could no longer lead the archdiocese.

This desolate village, deep in the far northern Arkhangelsk region, is the hometown of one of the suspected GRU Russian military intelligence agents who is believed to have poisoned a former Russian spy in Britain. The other alleged attacker and an alleged military intelligence operative accused of a hacking attack in the Netherlands come from equally dismal places.

In his letter accepting the resignation, Francis said he recognized that in asking to retire, Wuerl had put the interests and unity of his flock ahead of his own ambitions, as all shepherds must do.

"I've found a number of people that have tattoos of his image on their arms … a lot of popular murals and artwork on the streets of the capital," Chesnut continued. "So yeah, it's a real, genuine kind of grass-roots, working-class, popular devotion that you don't often see with a lot of other, European-born Catholic saints."

"You have sufficient elements to justify your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes," Francis wrote. "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence. Of this I am proud and thank you."

But a grand jury report issued in August on rampant sex abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses accused Wuerl of helping to protect some child-molesting priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. Simultaneously, Wuerl faced widespread skepticism over his insistence that he knew nothing about years of alleged sexual misconduct by McCarrick.

Wuerl had submitted his resignation to Francis nearly three years ago, when he turned 75, the normal retirement age for bishops. But Francis kept him on, as Popes tend to do with able-bodied bishops who share their pastoral priorities.

But a grand jury report issued in August on rampant sex abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses accused Wuerl of helping to protect some child-molesting priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. Simultaneously, Wuerl faced widespread skepticism over his insistence that he knew nothing about years of alleged sexual misconduct by McCarrick.

Unlike Texas, where people turn themselves in on the banks of the Rio Grande, the smugglers in in Arizona have been dumping groups of migrant families on a remote dirt road running along the southern limit of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument west of the Lukeville border crossing with Mexico. Summer temperatures there can soar close to 49 C.

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.

On Sunday in the Vatican, Pope Francis will officially make Romero a saint nearly four decades after he was martyred by an assassin's bullet to the heart. But for many Salvadoran Roman Catholic devotees who already know him as "Saint Romero of the Americas" that will only formalize something they have long known in their hearts.

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. Years later, according to the report, six more people alleged that they were sexually assaulted by O'Malley, in some cases after he had been reinstated.

Two larger groups of migrants from Guatemala and Honduras were also found abandoned last week near Yuma. Border Patrol officers said 108 people were found just before midnight Oct. 2 a half-mile west of the San Luis Port of Entry and five hours later, agents apprehended 56 Central Americans a mile east of the same border crossing.

In another case, Wuerl returned a priest to active ministry in 1995 despite having received multiple complaints that the priest, George Zirwas, had molested boys in the late 1980s.

"People from Moscow, (like) people from New York, are not so interested in a military career and being special ops," said military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. But thousands of miles away from the capital, "it's a way to get out of the misery of rural life in provincial Russia, and make a career."

Wuerl apologized for the damage inflicted on the victims but also defended his efforts to combat clergy sex abuse.

At the time — and still today — some in conservative sectors loathed him as a "guerrilla in a cassock" for sympathizing with leftist causes. But he was and remains broadly popular among the poor and working class, whom he passionately defended, and many began lionizing him almost immediately.

His defenders have cited a case that surfaced in 1988, when a 19-year-old former seminarian, Tim Bendig, filed a lawsuit accusing a priest, Anthony Cipolla, of molesting him. Wuerl initially questioned Bendig's account, but later accepted it and moved to oust Cipolla from the priesthood. The Vatican's highest court ordered Wuerl to restore Cipolla to priestly ministry, but Wuerl resisted and, after two years of legal procedures, prevailed in preventing Cipolla's return.

"You have sufficient elements to justify your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes," Francis wrote. "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence. Of this I am proud and thank you."

"No bishop or cardinal in the nation has had a more consistent and courageous record than Donald Wuerl in addressing priestly sexual abuse," contends Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League.

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

A joint statement by Washington auxiliary bishops also praised Wuerl for his service and pastoral care, and said his decision to step down was a "clear manifestation of his love and concern for the people of the archdiocese."

At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest who writes for Religion News Service, described Wuerl as an ideological moderate.

Alexander Mishkin is one who got out, leaving the village for a military academy in St. Petersburg. The investigative group Bellingcat said he's the man known to British authorities as Alexander Petrov, one of the two suspects in the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

"He was totally enthusiastic about John Paul II, and then Pope Benedict, and now he's totally enthusiastic about Pope Francis. There are not many people in the church who are totally enthusiastic about all three of them."

Ahead of a private lunch, President Donald Trump and West spoke with reporters as they sat across from each other at the Resolute desk. West dominated the conversation with a series of monologues that touched on social policy, mental health, endorsement deals and his support for the president.

Numerous conservative Catholic activists and commentators, though, considered him too tolerant of the LGBT community and too liberal on some other issues. They resented his pivotal role a decade ago in resisting a push by some of his fellow bishops to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support the right to abortion.

Six-figure payments for prayers didn't spare Bennett from a 17-count indictment on fraud charges. Neither did the "hoodoo" spells that investigators suspected her of casting to stymie federal investigators, a claim fueled by a peculiar discovery during an FBI search of her home.

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

"I didn't know who he was, and he came to my bed at the hospital. He put his hand on my head and told me: 'It will no longer be necessary for you to be here. You will be healed," de Hilario said, weeping, in front of the tomb. "We come every Sunday to visit him."

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

She made the remark during a television interview in which she promoted her Be Best initiatives, which take on online bullying. Critics have pointed out that her husband, President Donald Trump, routinely mocks people for their looks and for what he says is a lack of talent or intelligence.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis accepted the resignation Friday of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl after he became entangled in two major sexual abuse and coverup scandals and lost the support of many in his flock.

But in a letter released by Wuerl’s office, Francis praised his longtime ally and suggested Wuerl had unfairly become a scapegoat, having made some “mistakes” in handling sex abuse cases, but not having covered them up.

"The use of the death penalty is unequally applied — sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources at any given point in time, or the race of the defendant," Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst wrote in the lead opinion.

With the resignation, Wuerl becomes the most prominent head to roll in the scandal roiling the Catholic Church after his predecessor as Washington archbishop, Theodore McCarrick, was forced to resign as cardinal over allegations he sexually abused at least two minors and adult seminarians.

Smugglers in recent weeks have been abandoning large groups of Guatemalan and other Central American migrants in Arizona's harsh cactus-studded Sonoran Desert near the border with Mexico, alarming Border Patrol officials who say the trend is putting hundreds of children at risk.

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.

"He was a great example of humility," added Santos, clad in a white shirt with Romero's face imprinted on it. "He professed love for the poor man. He denounced injustices. He defended victims. He criticized the violence of the military and of the guerrillas."

The decision came after months in which Wuerl, who turns 78 in November, initially downplayed the scandal, insisted on his own good record, but then progressively came to the conclusion that he could no longer lead the archdiocese.

An investment adviser charged with orchestrating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme spent nearly three-quarters of a million dollars on prayers by Hindu priests in India to ward off a federal investigation and save her failing business, according to testimony at her trial this week.

“The Holy Father’s decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future,” Wuerl said in a statement Friday. “Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon.”

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, reduced to nothing but concrete slabs in the sand. Rows and rows of other homes were turned into piles of splintered lumber or were crumpled and slumped at odd angles. Entire roofs were torn away and dropped onto a road.

In his letter accepting the resignation, Francis said he recognized that in asking to retire, Wuerl had put the interests and unity of his flock ahead of his own ambitions, as all shepherds must do.

"He would sit next to my father to watch soap operas and tell jokes, while they prepared his beans for him. He said that this was his family. He said this home was his Bethany, that he felt so happy that he had an urge to take off his shoes," said Leonor Chacon, 80.

“You have sufficient elements to justify your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes,” Francis wrote. “However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence. Of this I am proud and thank you.”

"A real man of the people. … And so even prior to his canonization, even shortly after his martyrdom, we see this almost kind of folk-saint, popular-saint devotion springing up," said Andrew Chesnut, chair in Catholic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Wuerl had submitted his resignation to Francis nearly three years ago, when he turned 75, the normal retirement age for bishops. But Francis kept him on, as popes tend to do with able-bodied bishops who share their pastoral priorities.

There were occasional blue skies on a generally cloudy, gusty day as the royal standard flew atop the Windsor Castle complex, indicating the queen was in residence. The strong winds forced many women to hold on to their elaborate hats as they approached the chapel.

But a grand jury report issued in August on rampant sex abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses accused Wuerl of helping to protect some child-molesting priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. Simultaneously, Wuerl faced widespread skepticism over his insistence that he knew nothing about years of alleged sexual misconduct by McCarrick.

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.

West credited Trump with preventing a war with North Korea and encouraged Trump to swap his usual Air Force One for a hydrogen-powered plane. West also argued that Trump deserved more respect, saying: "if he don't look good, we don't look good."

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. Years later, according to the report, six more people alleged that they were sexually assaulted by O’Malley, in some cases after he had been reinstated.

In another case, Wuerl returned a priest to active ministry in 1995 despite having received multiple complaints that the priest, George Zirwas, had molested boys in the late 1980s.

Schwarzenegger was accused of sexual misconduct when he ran for governor in 2003 and he denied the allegations. He says that's why there were sexual harassment courses when he became governor to make sure no one, including himself, made that mistake.

Wuerl apologized for the damage inflicted on the victims but also defended his efforts to combat clergy sex abuse.

Under a perfectly clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged from darkened shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centres, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

His defenders have cited a case that surfaced in 1988, when a 19-year-old former seminarian, Tim Bendig, filed a lawsuit accusing a priest, Anthony Cipolla, of molesting him. Wuerl initially questioned Bendig’s account but later accepted it and moved to oust Cipolla from the priesthood. The Vatican’s highest court ordered Wuerl to restore Cipolla to priestly ministry, but Wuerl resisted and, after two years of legal procedures, prevailed in preventing Cipolla’s return.

In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs had been peeled off and carried away. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees.

“No bishop or cardinal in the nation has had a more consistent and courageous record than Donald Wuerl in addressing priestly sexual abuse,” contends Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League.

U.S. Immigration and Control Enforcement in Arizona began releasing hundreds of people Sunday to await court dates, saying it didn't have the capacity to hold an "incredibly high volume" of migrant families showing up at the border.

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

A joint statement by Washington auxiliary bishops also praised Wuerl for his service and pastoral care and said his decision to step down was a “clear manifestation of his love and concern for the people of the archdiocese.”

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest who writes for Religion News Service, described Wuerl as an ideological moderate.

“He was totally enthusiastic about John Paul II, and then Pope Benedict, and now he’s totally enthusiastic about Pope Francis,” Reese said. “There are not many people in the church who are totally enthusiastic about all three of them.”

Numerous conservative Catholic activists and commentators, though, considered him too tolerant of the LGBT community and too liberal on some other issues. They resented his pivotal role a decade ago in resisting a push by some of his fellow bishops to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support the right to abortion.

Survivor advocate David Clohessy of the group SNAP said Wuerl’s “long-overdue” resignation might give solace to victims. But he said it would likely do little to deter others in the hierarchy from covering up for abusers.

“But if archaic, predatory-friendly laws were reformed and if more prosecutors showed real courage, these complicit clerics might face criminal charges, and that might make a real difference,” he said in a statement.

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