Cardinal Wuerl meeting with Pope Francis to discuss resignation, survivors want more

For immediate release, Sept. 11, 2018

Statement by Becky Ianni, Volunteer DC SNAP Leader and SNAP Treasurer, 703-801-6044, [email protected]

The Catholic News Agency reported late today that Cardinal Donald Wuerl told priests that he will be meeting with Pope Francis “soon” to discuss his resignation.

The Cardinal has been under pressure to step down following the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report. The report said that the DC prelate allowed abusive priests back into ministry when he was a bishop in that state. But people, including practicing Catholics, were even more upset by the Cardinal’s response to the report when he claimed publicly, “I think I did everything I possibly could.” The calls for resignation mounted after Cardinal Wuerl was accused of knowing about the allegations against his predecessor in the archdiocese, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and doing nothing.

If Pope Francis accepts Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation, survivors cannot view it as a total victory. On the one hand we will be heartened that a high ranking Church official who has been found to have covered up sexual abuse is being removed from ministry. However, if Pope Francis simply accepts the Cardinal’s resignation without acknowledging it was for the way abuse cases were handled, it is only a half measure.

The Cardinal’s resignation may make people feel good for the moment, that their voices have been heard and that Cardinal Wuerl has stepped down. Yet this resignation will not make one child or vulnerable adult safer.

So we hope that people will keep their eyes on the real prize. That is:

  • For the Vatican to turn over all their abuse files to law enforcement,
  • For the Pope to discipline all those who covered up sexual abuse, and
  • For the leadership of the Catholic Church to jettison canons which promote the concealment of abusers and to introduce new canons which mandate turning predators over to law enforcement.

The public, and the Faithful, should not be satisfied with a grand gesture that does not herald real reform. There is much more work to be done.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been working for thirty years to support victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is 

Contact  -   Becky Ianni (703-801-6044, [email protected]), Tim Lennon (415-312-5820, [email protected]), Melanie Sakoda, (925-708-6175,  [email protected]


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