1. Pope Accepts Wuerl’s Resignation as Washington Archbishop, but Calls Him a Model Bishop, By Jason Horowitz, Elizabeth Dias, and Laurie Goodstein, New York Times Online, October 12, 2018

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, a moment many victims of clerical sexual abuse had hoped would demonstrate his commitment to holding accountable bishops who have mismanaged cases of sexual misconduct.

But instead of making an example of Cardinal Wuerl, who was named in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused church leaders of covering up abuse, Francis held him up as a model for the future unity of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope cited Cardinal Wuerl’s “nobility” and announced that the 77-year-old prelate would stay on as the archdiocese’s caretaker until the appointment of his successor.

In an interview, Cardinal Wuerl said that he would continue to live in Washington and that he expected to keep his position in Vatican offices that exert great influence, including one that advises the pope on the appointment of bishops.

Cardinal Wuerl had a reputation as a reformer before the Pennsylvania grand jury report in August detailed widespread clerical abuse over many decades. The report included accounts of Cardinal Wuerl’s poor handling of accusations against priests when he was the bishop of Pittsburgh, mentioning his name more than 200 times.


2. Pope Francis accepts resignation of DC’s archbishop, Cardinal Wuerl, amid criticism of Wuerl’s handling of abuse claims, By Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post Online, October 12, 2018, 6:17 AM

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who in a matter of months went from a trusted papal ally who had largely managed to avoid controversy over a long career to a prominent symbol of what many Catholics have come to regard as an infuriatingly weak and defensive response by their church to clerical sex abuse.

Pope Francis said that he had asked Wuerl to stay on as an “apostolic administrator” until a successor was found.

In a letter of praise, Francis wrote to Wuerl saying that he saw in the cardinal’s request to step down “the heart of a shepherd.” Francis did not criticize Wuerl’s handling of abuse cases.

“You have sufficient elements to ‘justify” your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes,” Francis wrote. “However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.”


3. Is a War Memorial’s Cross Illegal?, By Jeremy Dys, The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2018, Pg. A13

As a lowly corporal, Milton Edward Hartman’s death shouldn’t have drawn much attention. But on a summer day in 1919, it seemed as if half the town of Forestville, Md., came to his memorial service. His commanding officer attended, as did the bishop of Washington. As the Churchman periodical reported on July 19, 1919: “The whole countryside came to the memorial service, thronged the church and filled the churchyard ten feet deep around the church, listening and participating through the open doors and windows.”

Yet after years of litigation, a three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined this year that this memorial is unlawful. According to the court, the memorial’s cross shape violates the Constitution.

Judge Niemeyer explained: “The monument’s use of the cross shape mirrors the custom in Europe during World War I.” He also correctly observed that the Fourth Circuit’s decision “will now have the monument removed or destroyed because, as it concludes, its presence on public land amounts to a violation of the Establishment Clause, although no Supreme Court case has ever held that the Establishment Clause prohibits such monuments.”


4. Highest Court Strikes Down Death Penalty, By Sara Randazzo, The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2018, Pg. A5

Washington’s highest court struck down the state’s death penalty Thursday, calling it unconstitutional and racially biased.

The ruling follows recent legislative efforts to eliminate capital punishment in the state, which last executed a prisoner in 2010. No executions have been allowed in Washington since early 2014 under an order from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

The state’s death penalty has had a tumultuous history. The Thursday decision by the Washington Supreme Court marks the fourth time the punishment has been deemed unconstitutional, the justices noted in their ruling.


5. Abuse scandal isn’t the only chapter in Donald Wuerl’s story, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, October 12, 2018

Make no mistake: Cardinal Donald Wuerl resigned today because of allegations of mishandling cases of clerical sexual abuse, and if he were to die tomorrow, his role in the abuse scandals would be how his obituary opened.

However fair that linkage may be doesn’t matter. His resignation at this time, and under these circumstances, effectively sets it in cement.

Yet scandals often have the paradoxical effect of both clarifying and distorting. They clarify in the sense that they force institutions to face truths they often do their best to avoid, but they also distort in that they generate so much noise and commotion that other important truths can be blocked from view.

In Wuerl’s case, one of those truths is that while the abuse crisis is now a critically important chapter in his story, it’s hardly the entire narrative.

That could mean Wuerl’s role as a “chief conduit” between the U.S. Church and Francis will stay in place, and his influence with the pope is unlikely to be diminished – if anything, since his retirement may afford him more time in Rome, it might even grow.

As a result, there may yet be even more chapters to add to the Donald Wuerl story.