Skip to comments.Scapegoating Cardinal Wuerl
Posted on 09/13/2018 7:12:03 AM PDT by Aunt Polgara
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on recent criticisms of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington:
It is one thing for the laity to be angry about recent revelations regarding former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and the Pennsylvania grand jury report on molesting priests (which is riddled with lies), it is quite another to allow emotion, not reason, to guide ones perspective on these twin scandals. Yet that is what is happening.
The most angry comments are directed at Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington: He is being blamed for the twin scandals. This is patently unfairthere is no basis for either accusation.
I have known Cardinal Wuerl for 30 years. I met him when I was a professor at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, and had the opportunity to assess his record during his first five years of service as the Bishop of Pittsburgh. It was outstanding.
Cardinal Wuerl is not only an authority on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and a prolific author, he is one of the most brilliant and courageous bishops in the nation. He is now being battered by people who know nothing about him, but just want to get the biggest scalp they can find, and that would be the Archbishop of Washington. The haters are found on both the right and the left in the Catholic community, especially the right. Theyve become delirious.
It is being said that Cardinal Wuerl must have known all about what McCarrick allegedly did and chose to do nothing about it. Aside from rumors, which are a staple in every workplace, Wuerl was in no position to know anything about McCarricks alleged sexual behavior with seminarians, and he certainly was in no position to know anything about more recent allegations involving minors.
Consider the timeline of McCarricks predatory behavior with seminarians, which allegedly took place in the 1980s down the Jersey Shore.
When McCarrick was installed as Bishop of Metuchen in 1982, Wuerl was executive secretary to Bishop John Marshall of Burlington, Vermont. When McCarrick became Archbishop of Newark in 1986, Wuerl was an Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle. In 1988, Wuerl became Bishop of Pittsburgh, and in 2006 he took over as the Archbishop of Washington.
In short, Wuerl was in Burlington, Seattle, and Pittsburgh when McCarrick was allegedly preying on seminarians in his home in Sea Girt, New Jersey. To hold him accountable for McCarricks deeds is absurd and patently unfair. Moreover, he had nothing to do with financial settlements arranged by the Diocese of Metuchen (2005) and the Archdiocese of Newark (2007).
What we do know about Wuerl is that he distinguished himself early on by confronting priestly sexual abuse.
When Wuerl became Bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988, he learned of a few cases of molestation involving minors. Against the advice of attorneys, he met with the victims and their families. A few months later, he removed Father Anthony Cipolla from ministry.
Cipolla maintained his innocence, but Wuerl was convinced he had mental problems, and notified the Vatican about it in 1989. Wuerl told the Congregation for Clergy that it would be morally impossible to assign Father Cipolla, who is in need of serious psychological treatment, to the pastoral care of the faithful in the Church.
Cippola appealed to the Congregation for Clergy, but it sided with Wuerl.
In 1991, Cipploa appealed to the Vatican Signatura, the Catholic Churchs Supreme Court. In 1993, the high court overruled Wuerl, ordering him to reinstate Cippola. Wuerl said nohe would not return him to ministry. Wuerl argued that there were inaccuracies in the Signaturas decision and asked the Vatican to reopen the case.
In 1995, the Vatican reversed itself, agreed with Wuerls assessment, and Cipolla was officially barred from public ministry.
In 1989, the year after Wuerls first encounter with sexual abuse as a bishop, he launched a Diocesan Review Board. At that time, the bishops had no institutionalized mechanism for assessing sexual offensesthe bishops conference never had one until 2004putting him way ahead of the curve.
It is no wonder that Wuerls courageous decisions were appreciated by so many. Critics on the left, notably the National Catholic Reporter, said in 1993 that Wuerl should be applauded for refusing to reinstate accused pedophile Father Anthony Cippola despite a Vatican Supreme Tribunal order. [Note: Cippola, like most molesting priests, was a homosexual, not a pedophile.]
In 2002, the New York Times singled Wuerl out as the leader among bishops determined to root out bad behavior. Bishop Wuerl stands on one end of a broad spectrum of how Catholic leaders have responded to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, crediting him with seeking ways to prevent abuse and to hold pedophiles accountable. [The pedophile myth is a staple in left circles.]
Praise for Wuerl also came in 2002 from Tim Bendig, who claimed he was molested by Cippola. Speaking of Wuerl, he told CBS News, I think its a commendable job. I really do, especially from a victims standpoint, to have kind of your day in court, if you will, where a bishopa bishop of theof the city of Pittsburgh just blatantly says, We dont want this priest. Andand he fought it all the way to Rome.
In 2006, the liberal-leaning Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted how effective Wuerl was when he was Bishop of Pittsburgh (he had just been appointed Archbishop of Washington). When other dioceses around the nation were mired in an ugly abuse scandal involving priests who preyed on younger church members, Pittsburgh was unscathed.
Conservatives such as Michael Novak also applauded Wuerls move to Washington. He noted that Wuerls reputation was as one who knows his theology, who is brave and forthright in it, has a good, stout character and is not deterred by criticism. Novak concluded, I think its a good choice.
These plaudits, of course, were prior to the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report. The report does raise some questions about Wuerls handling of a few cases. News stories are focusing on Father Ernest Paone and Father George Zirwas.
Paone was accused of molestation in the early 1960s and was granted a leave of absence for psychological, physical, and spiritual reasons in 1966. The following year he relocated to California. He never worked in Pittsburgh ever again, and no further charges were made against him. However, he was still under the authority of the Pittsburgh bishop, and in 1991 Bishop Wuerl reassigned him to the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas.
In the same section of the grand jury report that notes this case, it says the following:
On June 30, 1989 [one year into his tenure in Pittsburgh], Bishop Donald Wuerl sent a letter to the Vatican with respect to several diocesan priests who had recently been accused of sexually abusing children and whose cases had generated significant publicity. In the letter, Wuerl documented his diocesan policies for sexual abuse and stated his responsibility as Bishop was to determine the course of action in these cases. Wuerl wrote that Catholic parishioners had a right to know whether a priest accused of such crimes had been reassigned to their parish.
Father George Zirwas was the subject of complaints between 1987 and 1995. He was sent for psychiatric help in 1988 and was returned to ministry after the therapists said he had been treated successfully.
As usual, they were wrongpsychologists and psychiatrists have long oversold their level of competenceand he was accused again in 1991 and 1995. Wuerl should have removed him from ministry but instead gave him a leave of absence. Zirwas moved to Havana, working with the poor, and was murdered there in 2001.
Wuerl is now being criticized because he allowed Zirwas to receive a stipend and other benefits, and because he presided at his funeral. So what? Wuerl was just following canon laweven priests removed from ministry are not denied some financial support.
Maybe thats wrong, but it is unfair to pin this on Wuerl. As for the funeral, yes, bishops have been known to preside at the funeral of many despicable personsits what they do. They leave the final judgment to God.
Like everyone, Wuerl must be judged on the basis of his overall record, and in his case it is meritorious. In his 18 years as the Bishop of Pittsburgh, he fielded 19 new cases of accusations against priests. In 18 of those cases, the priest was immediately removed from ministry.
Its a shame that more bishops dont have as good a record as Donald Wuerl. Its also a shame to hear angry Catholicswho dont know what they are talking aboutattack him. Cardinal Wuerl has served the Catholic Church with distinction and is deserving of our commendation, not condemnation.
Bill Donohue is a loyal Catholic blinded by his devotion. He needs to recognize that the Catholic Church has been permeated by vile homosexuals. They will never gracefully or voluntarily release their grip. Their intent is to scrap three millennium of Judeo-Christian consensus that rightly condemns this destructive abomination. The homosexual deviants with to change Church doctrine and teaching. They wish to make it compatible with modern hedonistic culture that celebrates their sick perversion. Pope “who am I to judge Francis is their champion.
I’m in Louisville. The Cardinals are big here.
Cardinal Wuerhl is part of the problem,too. When he arrived in Wash DC from Pittsburgh he was interviewed on a local radio conservative talk show. I listened to it and from what I heard from him even then he just sounded so creepy but it was what he was saying, too. Well, after that I did a little research on him and lo & behold, I found evidence from reports of seminarians, etc about his sexual proclivities. It was just story after story about “Donna”. Since the Pennslyvania scandal broke a few weeks I went back to see if the stories still held and they were wiped clean.
Undo respect at the feet of church ‘elites’ is one of the reasons child rape, molestation, and cover-ups are common in the Catholic Church.
True ‘elites’ are held to a higher standard - not a lower one...
His typical objectivity has been compromised by design.
Win some, lose some. :)
I very carefully avoid “catholic caucus” threads. When that isn’t in the title, it’s free game and a spade needs to be called a spade. I see the Catholic church today as a form of Hillary Clinton. In spite of all the hijinx going on, she is still walking free. And the same with the church. People are still members.
It’s quite fascinating to me. Well, that and the funny hats.
The fact that you would make a joke on a thread about children being sexually molested is very telling. And now it's two jokes.
My joke is not about children being molested. I’m laughing at the fact that we are putting up with yet another broad sex scandal in that church. When are people going to wake up?
It’s not funny at all, really. But I’m laughing at those willing to endlessly discuss this publicly but not do what is necessary - vote with your feet.
Donahue, usually a consistent and able defender of the Church, seems this time to be ignoring Bishop Vigano’s allegation that Wuerl was specifically informed of McCarrick’s behavior on at least two occasions, once by Vigano himself. But perhaps more importantly, Donahue appears to be tone-deaf as to exactly whose “scalp” traditional Catholics are seeking.
When a priest is accused by a minor or the minor's parent(s), bishops need to call the police station - not the Vatican or psychiatrist. Furthermore, bishops who do not immediately report sexual abuse accusations to civil authorities need to be charged with aiding and abetting.
Wuerl has fled the jurisdiction, as far as I can tell. Let’s see if he comes back from Rome.
Bill Donohue gets paid around $500K a year. Given the fact that any criticism of the hierarchy would put his fat salary in jeopardy. Given that fact I don’t think anything he writes or says can be considered credible.
the bishops had no institutionalized mechanism for assessing sexual offenses
institutionalized mechanism for assessing sexual offences. One has to think about the words a bit.
Correct problems definition helps solve the problem.
(this is a worldly perspective).
1) if the problem is homos, there are only two ways to prove they are homos: You catch them in the act or they self identify. After that it is accusations, you can’t prove and there will be supporters on both sides of individuals. in essence you repeat the INQUISITION.
2) If the issue is pedophiles, you have much of the same problem.
3) If the issue is corruption, removing a leader isn’t going to do it. The institution is part of the problem.
So what is the solution folks? We all spout off with ideas and various comments. BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF MAN THESE PROBLEMS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE, AND ALWAYS WILL BE HERE ON EARTH.
Now there is a solution, but we aren’t going to like it. It has been implemented multiple times in history. Anyone want to talk about that?
A dear friend sent this to me and it is quite illuminating how a man who would become pope and then resign saw much of this almost 50 years ago
If they had only listened, but seem that they were beguiled by the wealth and positions rather than the faith
No priest, cardinal or Pope can save our eternal soul, or lose our eternal soul.....the TRUE Church, which the Catholic Church is, will NEVER be destroyed!!
Im guessing that you are a Protestant, maybe Evangelical...am I right?
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