Top cardinals must stay away from the papal visit – victims

US report accuses clerics of sex abuse cover-up

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Donald Wuerl (l), Archbishop of Washington, in 2015. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis greets Cardinal Donald Wuerl (l), Archbishop of Washington, in 2015. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

A group representing survivors of clerical abuse around the world has demanded that three top cardinals who are due to attend the World Meeting of Families in Dublin next week stay away.

Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA), which represents clerical abuse survivors in 15 countries, named the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who was criticised in the US grand jury’s investigation into clerical abuse in six catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania over 70 years. Cardinal Donald Wuerl spent 18 years as the bishop of Pittsburgh before he became archbishop of Washington.

The two-year investigation found 301 credible cases of clerical abuse against more than 1,000 children.

The Shapiro report accused Cardinal Wuerl of approving the transfer of priests against whom allegations of abuse were made instead of removing them from ministry.

The report also claimed that he oversaw inadequate Church investigations and concealed information when priests were reported to law enforcement.

In a statement, Peter Isely, abuse survivor and founding member of ECA, said the grand jury’s conclusions were “clear and backed by evidence: Cardinal Wuerl covered up sex crimes”.

The Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park, where the Pope will celebrate Mass. Photo: CollinsThe Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park, where the Pope will celebrate Mass. Photo: Collins

The Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park, where the Pope will celebrate Mass. Photo: Collins

He said the prelate “profoundly failed to protect Catholic children and allowed countless Catholic families to be broken”.

“That is why Wuerl has no business as a keynote speaker at the World Meeting of Families (WMOF 2018) and the papal visit.”

The survivors group also named Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life in the Vatican, who is overseeing the World Meeting of Families, as another prelate who should not be allowed to attend the event in Ireland.

Dublin-born Farrell worked as vicar general in the archdiocese of Washington for six years with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and he also shared a house with the now disgraced prelate. Cardinal McCarrick is currently being investigated for alleged abuse of a minor and for sexual harassment of seminarians.

Cardinal Farrell has said he had no knowledge of McCarrick’s activities. However, other members of the US hierarchy have claimed that McCarrick’s targeting of seminarians was an open secret among the bishops.

The third cardinal named by ECA is Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who is one of Pope Francis’s inner circle of nine cardinal advisers. In recent weeks, Cardinal Maradiaga’s auxiliary, Bishop Juan José Pineda Fasquelle of the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, resigned from office after allegations emerged that he had sexually abused seminarians.

Cardinal Maradiaga is also battling accusations of financial mismanagement which resulted in the loss of $1.2m.

In its statement, the ECA said that if Pope Francis allowed Cardinal Wuerl “a place of honour and respect during his time in Ireland”, he would be supporting and encouraging “a culture of abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church”.

In the wake of the grand jury’s damning report in Pennsylvania, the ECA reissued its open letter to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who is president of WMOF2018, calling on Pope Francis to remove the three cardinals from the event.

So far Archbishop Martin has not responded to the letter. The Irish Independent asked both a spokesperson for Archbishop Martin and a spokesperson for the World Meeting of Families for a response but there was no reply at the time of going to print.

Meanwhile, the director of the Lumen Fidei Institute in Ireland has said Cardinals Wuerl, Farrell and Maradiaga “all have questions to answer”.

Anthony Murphy, who is organising an alternative conference on the family to coincide with the WMOF congress at the RDS, said the laity had had enough of “a deeply corrupt episcopacy” which has lost touch with ordinary Catholic families.

“How could Wuerl even consider giving a lecture on ‘the welfare of the family’ at the WMOF?” he challenged.

Irish Independent

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