Cardinal Donald Wuerl (CS photo by Jaclyn Lippelmann)
Cardinal Donald Wuerl (CS photo by Jaclyn Lippelmann)

After recently meeting and praying with priests of the Archdiocese of Washington to listen and discern his leadership role, Cardinal Donald Wuerl sent a letter to the priests on Tuesday evening. In his letter, the cardinal said he has concluded that the best way to serve the Church as it moves into the future is two-fold: to participate in a process of healing for all those who have suffered abuse, and to meet soon with Pope Francis to request that the Holy Father accept the resignation that was submitted three years ago when the cardinal turned 75. He said he would take that action “so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward,” and it can experience “a new beginning.”

Last week in another letter to priests, Cardinal Wuerl announced that he would celebrate a Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral on September 14th to initiate a “Season of Healing” in the Archdiocese of Washington; he encouraged parishes to unite in whatever forms of prayer they are currently undertaking on behalf of survivors of abuse and for the Church. The cardinal’s Tuesday letter was shared so that the Mass for a “Season of Healing” at St. Matthew’s would not be overshadowed by questions about his status. In the letter, the cardinal also indicated he wished to share his gratitude with the priests for their prayers as well as for their part in the discernment process.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Brother Priest,

On Monday, September 3, prior to our annual Labor Day gathering, we had an opportunity to pray together and, as I was asked by our Holy Father Pope Francis, to discern the best course of action for me to pursue as we face new revelations of the extent of the horror of the clergy abuse of children and the failures in episcopal oversight. At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these terrible actions and have questions about their bishop’s ability to provide the necessary leadership.

It was clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part is an essential aspect so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward. As a fruit of our discernment I intend, in the very near future, to go to Rome to meet with our Holy Father about the resignation I presented nearly three years ago, November 12, 2015.

Our discernment here, I believe, has indicated the way forward to bring healing and a new beginning at the service of this Church. I am particularly grateful for your patience and respect for this time of discernment.

I ask you please to include me in your prayers.

Faithfully in Christ,

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington