WASHINGTON - A high-profile deacon at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington D.C is calling on Cardinal Donald Wuerl to resign amid the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal.
It has been nearly one month since the release of a stunning Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing more than 1,000 child sex abuse victims at the hands of more than 300 priests. The report was also highly critical of Wuerl during the 12 years he ran the Pittsburgh diocese.
Deacon James Garcia assisted Cardinal Wuerl during numerous masses at St. Matthew's Cathedral, but he will not be doing so anymore. In a scathing letter, the deacon is refusing to take part in any mass Wuerl presides. Also, in a direct challenge to a bishop that he has vowed obedience to, Garcia is calling on Wuerl to "relinquish your position as archbishop without delay."
In both his interview with FOX 5 along with his public statements, Cardinal Wuerl's refusal to resign is causing pain to both abuse survivors and the Catholic community he leads.
"I felt that as a matter of conscious as I said in the letter, that I could no longer personally attend to the cardinal given particularly the developments of the last several weeks," said Deacon Garcia. "But this is, as I said, a tragedy generations in the making."
Garcia's three-page letter was posted to an online blog for sexual abuse survivors and activists in the Catholic Church. In the letter, Garcia goes on to write that "the time for cowardice and self-preservation is long past. Victims cry out for justice and the faithful deserve shepherds who are not compromised."
In his FOX 5 exclusive interview following Pennsylvania grand jury report, Wuerl defended his record dealing with predator priests while archbishop of Pittsburgh. The grand jury report was not as kind. The grand jury said, "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades."
"Accountability - particularly on the part of the leadership of the church and particularly on the part of the bishops who were responsible of course for the spiritual welfare of the entire church," said Garcia. "As I said in my letter to the cardinal, I do believe it's in the best interests of the church that he relinquish his position as archbishop without delay."
FOX 5 reached out to Cardinal Wuerl and the Archdiocese of Washington for comment or reaction to Deacon Garcia's letter. The spokesman for the archdiocese did respond to our request. He responded with one word - "Nope."