Two Days After Asking for “Understanding,” Cardinal Wuerl Offers an Apology

Two days after asking for understanding for his role in covering up abuse allegations, Cardinal Donald Wuerl is finally “apologizing.”

We cannot help but feel that this apology is little more than a lame justification for his actions. To attempt to excuse himself by saying he “forgot” about the allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is neither believable nor a sign that Cardinal Wuerl feels real shame for his role in covering up allegations of sexual abuse. Rather, it is yet another example of a high-ranking church official minimizing his role in cover-ups and excusing his lack of action.

In his letter, the Cardinal states that it is “important for [him] to accept personal responsibility.” We agree. If Cardinal Wuerl is truly sorry, he should offer a genuine apology, one that is free of excuses and is backed up by a plan to make amends for his wrongdoing.

For example, Cardinal Wuerl should use his influence to encourage his brother bishops and cardinals to come forward and publish lists of accused priests, nuns, deacons, brothers, bishops, or any other church employees who may have hurt a child or a vulnerable adult. He should petition Pope Francis to ensure that survivor voices and experiences are front and center at next month’s papal abuse summit. He should work with other summit attendees to determine new protocols for prevention of future sex crimes and cover-ups, as well as punishments for any current or future prelate who is accused of doing so.

As administrator of the DC Archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl should immediately turn over all documents and personnel files to the D.C. attorney general, who has opened an investigation into clergy abuse. By turning over these files and laying his history bare, the Cardinal can begin to show that his apology is sincere.

Until he takes these steps, Cardinal Wuerl’s apologies will be as false as his claims that he knew nothing of allegations against Cardinal McCarrick.

CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Treasurer, Local DC SNAP leader (SNAPvirginia@cox.net, (703) 801-6044), Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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  • Isabel Sinton
    commented 2019-01-18 07:22:36 -0600
    Cardinal Wuerl is not following the bible, Cannon Law, a moral compass or any type of ethical behavior. Instead he seems to find guidance in Comedian Steve Martin’s ’Let’s Get Small’ Album ( 1995), a routine called ‘Excuuuuse Me’. For any minor mistake or mistake you reclassify as minor, just say ‘Excuse me’ and all will be forgotten. Anybody buying this?
  • Michael Ference
    commented 2019-01-17 23:02:32 -0600
    We can only speculate on how many times Donald “The Lavender Don” has lied before. Each time he lied to the media, his message was sent out over the airways and printing presses that the zero tolerant bishop/cardinal has spoken.

    He had at least one hi-profile Pittsburgh religion editor in his back pocket (or purse). Her name is Ann Rogers. She retired from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to take a job as the communications director for the Pittsburgh Diocese.

    Richard Sipe is well-known for coining the phrase “fixer” to describe the priest who follows in the footsteps of a predator priest to calm parishioners down.

    Ann Rogers was needed to continue the cover-ups.

    Wuerl still has plenty of explaining to do.

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