WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal will go under the spotlight as Pope Francis gathers more than 100 bishops and abuse victims from around the world at the Vatican for a summit on preventing clergy sexual abuse.
Multiple major scandals have rocked the Archdiocese of Washington, one that saw former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick defrocked for sexual abuse allegations and another that saw Cardinal Donald Wuerl being forced into retirement after being criticized for his response to the crisis.
The summit into the crisis comes after a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed troubling allegations into sexual abuse of children by clergy members and their alleged covering up.
While Pope Francis has accepted Wuerl’s resignation, he has remained in charge of the Archdiocese of Washington as an “administrator” until a replacement is named.
“He was allowed to resign and the pope called him noble. And I think for me that was the last straw,” priest abuse survivor and SNAP Board Member Becky Ianni said. “How can you call someone who covered up child abuse noble? I wanted him fired.”
Ianni and other abuse survivors told FOX 5 that Wuerl’s continued role in the Archdiocese of Washington raises questions over whether his “retirement” represented a real change in the church’s operations or was simply a change in titles.
Just days ago, the pope kicked McCarrick out of the priesthood after the church found he committed sexual abuse. McCarrick is the highest ranking clergy to ever be defrocked.
Pope Francis and the Vatican are touting the summit as a turning point in the effort to protect children. But even analysts from inside the church, such as Father Thomas Reese, a columnist for the Catholic News Service, say they’re not expecting major advances from the summit.
“I think that a lot of the issues that they are going to be talking about are issues that we in the United States have been talking about for 20, 30 years, so I don’t think that there are going to be any surprises or much progress in terms of issues that Americans are concerned about,” Father Reese explained.
The Archdiocese of Washington told FOX 5 that Wuerl is not attending the abuse summit in Rome. As for a timeline on when a new archbishop of Washington would be named, bringing Wuerl’s “administrator” role to an end, a spokesperson responded, “this is all dependent on the Holy Father.”