Pope Francis met with embattled Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington last Thursday in Vatican City, where they discussed the cardinal’s personal situation, according to a source familiar with Wuerl’s presentation to local priests in Washington on Monday.
Wuerl, who is archbishop of Washington, told the priests about the papal meeting, including Francis’ advice that the cardinal should consult with his priests as
Wuerl discerns his future. That was part of a larger conversation between the Pope and Wuerl, the source said.
Archdiocese of Washington Director of Communications Edward McFadden has said that Wuerl traveled to the Vatican last week, but declined to provide any specifics about the trip. The cardinal is a member of several powerful Vatican offices.
But the 77-year-old Wuerl is facing increasing scrutiny both over what he knew about abuse allegations against his predecessor, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in Washington, and how he handled abusive priests while he headed the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Wuerl has “categorically denied” that any information about accusations against McCarrick was ever brought to him. He has also defended his overall record handling of clerical abuse in Pittsburgh, even while acknowledging “errors in judgment.”
Still, Wuerl has been under increasing pressure to step down, including calls from prominent Catholics who say that healing in the church requires new leadership. Archdiocesan officials say he does not have plans to resign.
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