The 77-year-old embattled traveled to Rome in September to ask Pope Francis to accept the resignation letter that he submitted nearly three years ago upon reaching the customary retirement age of 75.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl resigned amid two major sexual abuse and cover-up scandals rocking the Catholic Church.
The Pope has asked Wuerl to remain an Apostolic Administrator until his successor is appointed. Referring to this, Pope Francis wrote: "This request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care".
"You have sufficient elements to "justify" your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes". In it, the pope praised the cardinal's "nobility" in choosing to resign, saying "you make clear the intent to put God's Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church". Of this, I am proud and thank you.
Despite facing numerous calls for his resignation, including from his own clergy, Wuerl said at the time the report confirmed he had acted with "diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse". "I also beg forgiveness on behalf of church leadership from the victims who were again wounded when they saw these priests and bishops both moved and promoted".
He also apologised for "past errors in judgment" and asked for "pardon".
Wuerl had previously offered his resignation at age 75, as is customary in the church, but he was allowed to stay on in Washington, where he had served since 2006. He joined the priesthood in 1966 and was ordained a bishop in 1986 by Pope John Paul II in 1986.
It is my hope and prayer that Our Lord Jesus will bless Cardinal Wuerl and all those in the Archdiocese of Washington with grace, peace and strength today and always.
In 1993, he defied the Vatican in refusing to reassign predator priest Anthony Cipolla, but the grand jury report also cites cases in which Wuerl acted slowly in removing priests from ministry.
"If the pope truly wants a pure faith and Catholics that can walk in on Sunday morning with their head held high ... then they will open up every secret archive in the world, and that's the bottom line", she said at Josh Shapiro's news conference. "When Archbishop Carlo Viganò wrote that Cardinal Wuerl "lies shamelessly" in his "testimony" published in late August, it confirmed conclusions that many Washington priests had already arrived at".
Francis ordered McCarrick to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after American Church officials said as part of a separate investigation that allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.
Wuerl's archdiocese issued a series of similar plaudits on Friday, coinciding with the Vatican announcement. He was named a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI Nov. 20, 2010.
Cardinal Wuerl is a member of several Vatican departments, including the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Congregation for Bishops.
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