Cardinal Wuerl, Accused of Mishandling Clergy Sex Abuse, Met With Pope Francis About Crisis in D.C. Diocese

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Pope Francis met with Cardinal Donald Wuerl last Thursday in Vatican City, where they discussed Wuerl’s personal situation, according to a source familiar with Wuerl’s presentation to priests in Washington on Monday.

The source said Cardinal Wuerl told the priests about his meeting, including the Pope’s advice that, as he discerns his future, Wuerl should consult with his priests. That was part of a larger conversation between the Pope and Wuerl, the source said.

Archdiocese of Washington Director of Communications Edward McFadden previously confirmed that Wuerl traveled to the Vatican last week, but declined to provide any specifics about the trip.

Wuerl is facing increasing scrutiny both over what he knew about the case of 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 handling of clerical abuse in Pittsburgh.

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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