Cardinal Wuerl holds mass to begin 'season of healing' amid church sex abuse scandal
WASHINGTON - Cardinal Donald Wuerl held a special mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral Friday evening.
The Archdiocese of Washington said the mass will begin a "season of healing," a six-week reflective period in the Catholic Church.
Dozens of parishioners showed up to hear the archbishop of Washington speak, including some survivors of sexual abuse in the church.
The last time Cardinal Wuerl spoke at mass at St. Matthew was earlier this month. Video captured a parishioner yelling out "shame on you" while some others even walked out of the church.
Wuerl has faced increasing backlash along with calls for him to resign after a Pennsylvania grand jury report was released last month detailing abuse by hundreds of priests while alleging Wuerl and other senior church leaders conducted a "systematic cover-up" while he was the head of Pittsburgh's diocese from 1988 to 2006.
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Meanwhile, Pope Francis met with U.S. cardinals and bishops Thursday to discuss sex abuse scandal.
Wuerl sent a letter to priests earlier this week saying that he plans to travel to Rome to meet with Pope Francis in the near future to discuss a resignation letter he submitted almost three years ago. At the time, he had turned 75 years old, which is the customary retirement age in the Catholic Church.
The Archdiocese of Washington confirmed Thursday that Wuerl will ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation.
"He did ask the church for his forgiveness and to forgive those individuals who allegedly made these inappropriate acts," said parishioner Robert Simmons. "I think this is a good stepping stone for him to reach out to the community, bring out some of the issues that were raised and to express forgiveness and to move forward. I think that is something the church leadership and the pope have to grapple with, and find out what would be in the best interest of the church."
The Archdiocese of Washington said there is no firm date that has been agreed upon for Cardinal Wuerl to meet with Pope Francis.