WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - For the first time since his installation as archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cdl. Donald Wuerl will not be presiding at the Mass for Life.
Less than a week after news proving that Wuerl became aware of Abp. Theodore McCarrick's homosexual predation in 2004 — contrary to multiple statements claiming otherwise — the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. confirmed Wednesday that Wuerl will not be the principal celebrant at the Youth Rally and Mass for Life, held each year on the same day as the National March for Life.
Instead, Abp. Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio, will offer the liturgy. He will be joined by auxiliary bishops Mario Dorsonville and Roy Campbell.
Although the archdiocese has not given reasons for Wuerl's absence, sources tell Church Militant the decision was based on concerns over protests. According to one source, archdiocesan communications director Edward McFadden, in answer to a query over the weekend about Wuerl's presence at the Mass for Life, responded that the chancery had been hearing about the possibility of protests and was still deciding on whether the cardinal would attend. It decided Wednesday Wuerl should not appear.
Calls for similar actions were made by Catholics if Wuerl were to preside, as originally scheduled, at Friday's Mass for Life, with some asking those in attendance to turn their backs on Wuerl during the homily, while others suggested wearing bright t-shirts with slogans like "Wuerl Lied" or "Wuerl Must Go."
Church Militant also learned that the archdiocese received multiple messages from Catholics in the past few weeks demanding that Wuerl not attend the Mass for Life.
"I am writing to inform you of my disgust in hearing that Cardinal Wuerl might appear at the upcoming Youth Rally and Mass for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 18 at the Capitol One Stadium," wrote Bradley Champagne.
"It is well-known that Cardinal Wuerl has been talked about as being a terrible example to faithful Catholics," he continued. "If Cardinal Wuerl shows up to the Youth Rally and/or celebrates the Mass, it communicates utmost disrespect for the victims of sexual abuse by clergy, that these cases are no big deal, and that Church leaders can get away with allowing these situations to be swept under the rug."
Another frustrated Catholic wrote:
If Cardinal Wuerl shows up in the Youth Rally, it communicates three things:
- It communicates a massive disrespect for victims of sexual abuse and cover-up.
- It communicates that this sexual abuse is not a big deal.
- It communicates that some of the leaders in the Church think that they can get away with this stuff and we faithful Catholics are saying no way, it's a big deal; these mistakes are not small, the harm done by them are untold, and no, the Church can't get away with this stuff anymore.
Wuerl resigned in disgrace in October, after months of criticism for the way he handled abuse allegations as bishop of Pittsburgh as well as loss of trust in his claims of innocence regarding McCarrick.
The annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life is a sizeable affair, with past events held at the Capital One Arena packed with many thousands of attendees, while Wuerl as main celebrant would be joined by about two dozen bishops and cardinals, along with hundreds of priests.