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