PITTSBURGH (CBSMiami) – The archbishop of Washington, D.C. plans to go to Rome in the near future to discuss his potential resignation with Pope Francis.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl has faced increased calls to step down, over allegations he covered up for so-called “predator priests.” He led the Pittsburgh diocese for 18 years and was implicated in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report.
In a letter Tuesday, Wuerl said a decision on his future is “essential” so that his archdiocese “can move forward.”
A Pennsylvania grand jury report released last month, found more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused more than a thousand children since 1947.
Wuerl presided over 32 accused priests during his 18 years at the Pittsburgh diocese. Among the accusations against him, is that he reassigned and reinstated some of them.
When asked if he ever moved accused priests quietly, Wuerl replied, “that wasn’t — that wasn’t our process.”
As for his trip to meet Pope Francis, Wuerl said, “what I want to talk about is what effort I made in my 18 years there and that was to introduce the zero tolerance and any priest against whom there was a credible, proven accusation, that appropriate action was taken.”
Wuerl’s letter came the same day Pope Francis drew criticism for comments he made during mass in Rome in which he said bishops are under attack from the “Great Accuser,” another name for Satan.
It seems like the “Great Accuser” has been unchained, the pope said, adding, he tries to uncover the sins so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.
“Many people are looking to Pope Francis to show a degree of leadership on this matter, that he hasn’t yet shown,” said Patrick Hornbeck, chair of Theology department at Fordham University.
“I think it’s fair to say that the Catholic church, in the US at least, is in a crisis that it’s not seen for a long time. So I think it’s anyone’s guess what happens next,” he added.
Wednesday morning, Pope Francis announced he is calling on all heads of Conferences of Catholic Bishops to come to Rome in February for a meeting on clergy sex abuse. It’s the first such summons of its kind.