The scandal involving over 1,000 children sexually abused by more than 300 Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania over a 70 year period is still reverberating not only in the Catholic Church but across the U.S., where several states are launching investigations. The Pennsylvania grand jury which issued their report last month on widespread abuse by priests named a couple of very prominent Church officials implicated in covering up the scandal, significantly Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. Wuerl was a bishop in PIttsburgh from 1988 to 2006, and was named some 200 times in the grand jury's report as having had knowledge of the abuse in 19 cases, but who allowed several priests to continue in their service despite credible allegations against them. Wuerl also has pleaded ignorance about his disgraced predecessor's sexual predator history.
Wuerl, who lends himself to amoral con man Donald "Rump" Trump for Rose Garden bible-banging photo ops, is reported to be aggressively holding on to his position, despite the grand jury report. He's been declining all media interviews, and has limited himself to sermons (one of which was interrupted by a protester). In a letter Thursday to the priests in the Washington archdiocese, Wuerl talks about a "time of prayer and discernment" that they had prior to their annual Labor Day cookout (!). He then says:
"Among the many observations was that the archdiocese would be well served by new leadership to move beyond the current confusion, disappointment and disunity.
I also heard voices calling for the beginning of healing. This I believe we need to do now."Yes, let's put aside those calls for "new leadership" and begin to heal now! One would think that healing would be difficult if the virus is still in the body and refuses to exit. Wuerl has a dandy idea for healing, too: setting up a six-week "Season of Healing" which would be:
"...an invitation for parishes and parishioners to come together in prayer, to give voice to the pain and suffering of the survivors of clergy sexual abuse, while also recognizing the pain and wound of the whole Church."Wuerl then promises a "tool kit" will be sent separately for the priests to use to facilitate the healing. We'd suggest including the petition form that's already garnered 80,000 signatures in the Archdiocese calling for Wuerl's removal. That would get things back to that bothersome "new leadership" issue that the Cardinal's so eager to brush past.
(photo: Trump shakes hands with Wuerl while Rabbi Levi Shemtov watches. Mark Wilson/Getty Images)