Cardinal Wuerl’s Fake Resignation?

Two months after Pope Francis accepted Donald Wuerl’s resignation for his alleged involvement in the cover-up of sexual abuse, it appears to be “business as usual” for Wuerl in the Archdiocese of Washington DC.

wo months ago, Cardinal Donald Wuerl stepped down early from his position as archbishop of Washington, faced with a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation that condemned him for his mixed record on handling abusive priests under his supervision.

On Christmas Day, Wuerl was robed in the majestic symbols of the Catholic church regardless, sitting on a seat designed to resemble a throne with his ceremonial head-covering shaped like a crown.

Pope Francis praised Wuerl in October even as he accepted the cardinal’s early retirement because of to the abuse scandal, and offered him a soft landing by keeping him on as administrator leading the Archdiocese of Washington until his successor is named, which has not happened yet.

On Christmas Day, Wuerl made his return, celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as his first major public event after months of staying somewhat away from the limelight.

“We can truly have peace and good will and harmony in this world,” Wuerl preached, in a homily that stuck to an optimistic message about the power of Christian faith to heal all ills.

Many in the crowd at the Basilica’s noon Mass, who filled every pew and spilled into the aisles, praised Wuerl’s message as well as the soaring orchestral works that filled the glittering shrine. “This is the best Mass I’ve ever been to in my whole 35 years of Catholicism,” gushed Melissa Escobar.

Others said they were bothered to see Wuerl leading the ornate Christmas service. The cardinal skipped other major events since the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released in August, including the annual back-to-school Mass and the annual Red Mass for the Supreme Court. Both of those are events he would ordinarily have led; at both, protesters outside demanded that Wuerl should resign.

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