WASHINGTON - Cardinal Donald Wuerl has sent a letter to priests saying he plans to travel to Rome to meet with Pope Francis to discuss the possible resignation from his position as Washington's archbishop, FOX 5 has confirmed.
Last month, a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed more than 1,000 children were sexually abused by more than 300 clergy members. The report also alleged that Wuerl protected abusers when he was the head of Pittsburgh's diocese from 1988 to 2006. Many have called for Wuerl's resignation since the report was released.
In an exclusive interview with FOX 5 after the grand jury report came out, Wuerl stated that he would not resign from his post and defended his record of dealing with predator priests while he was Pittsburgh's bishop.
In Cardinal Wuerl's letter to the priests, which was obtained by LifeSiteNews and confirmed by the Archdiocese of Washington that it was sent on Tuesday, he discusses a resignation letter that he submitted in November 2015. At that time, he had turned 75 years old, which is the customary retirement age, according to the Washington Post.
"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," Wuerl wrote in the letter. "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."
Pope Francis will meet with U.S. cardinals and bishops Thursday to discuss the sex abuse scandal, according to the Vatican. However, Cardinal Wuerl will not be attending that meeting and will be staying in Washington D.C. where he has a mass scheduled Friday at St. Matthew's Cathedral.