Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Statement from Cardinal Wuerl
October 12, 2018
“Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has accepted the resignation first offered on November 12, 2015, when I reached my 75th birthday. I am profoundly grateful for his devoted commitment to the wellbeing of the Archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding.
The Holy Father’s decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future. It permits this local Church to move forward. Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the Church of Washington.”
Letter from Pope Francis
“To our Venerable Brother Cardinal Donald William Wuerl,
On September 21st I received your request that I accept your resignation from the pastoral government of the Archdiocese of Washington. I am aware that this request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the great glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care…”
Seek First the Kingdom Blog Post
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Archdiocese of Washington,
Pope Francis has accepted my resignation as Archbishop of Washington. I had the privilege of meeting with him to let him know of your pain, sadness and confusion from what has been revealed these past months. With a heavy heart I said that I could no longer serve you in the way that you deserve. What is needed now is new leadership so that all of you, the faithful of this Church, can begin to focus on healing and the future.
I am sorry and ask for healing for all of those who were so deeply wounded at the hands of the Church’s ministers…
Catholic Standard: Pope accepts resignation of Cardinal Wuerl, who as Washington’s archbishop expanded outreach, founded seminary and hosted two papal visits
Statement from Bishop Michael F. Burbidge regarding the acceptance of the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl
Catholic News Agency: Pope Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, appoints him interim DC leader
The Latest From the Archdiocese
Statement on the Retirement of Cardinal Wuerl by Kim Viti Fiorentino, Chancellor and General Counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington
Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass to Begin Season of Healing for Survivors of Abuse in the Archdiocese of Washington
Former U.S. Attorney: Cardinal Wuerl’s record reflects effort to “prevent, expose, and remedy abuse”
Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass at Annunciation to Install New Pastor, Offers Remarks About Recent Events Involving the Church
Cardinal Wuerl’s Milestones as Archbishop of Washington
May 16, 2006 – Donald Wuerl, Bishop of Pittsburgh, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Archbishop of Washington. The Archdiocese of Washington was then home to approximately 560,000 Catholics. In his 12 years as archbishop, the archdiocese would grow to over 655,000 Catholic women, men and children.
June 22, 2006 – Installation Mass for Archbishop Wuerl at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
October 28, 2006 – Presided over a Catechetical Convocation of 2,300 archdiocesan catechists who assembled to discuss the critical role of effective catechesis in the Church. A review and assessment of religious education programs throughout the archdiocese followed this gathering to determine how to strengthen the teaching of the Catholic faith.
December 2006 – Approved $1.3 million in financial support to help 18 survivors to heal from past sexual abuse committed by nine clergy members who were removed from ministry and reported to legal authorities.
February 21, 2007 – Inaugurated the Lenten “The Light is On for You” pastoral initiative promoting Confession, as previously announced in the pastoral letter God’s Mercy and the Sacrament of Penance (2007).
August 24, 2007 – Opened the Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, which features an innovative work study program.
October 5, 2007 – Presided over a Convocation on Catholic Education, in which 500 parish and school leaders met to advance a collaborative effort of strategic planning to sustain and support Catholic schools, particularly with respect to the four pillars of Catholic identity, academic excellence, accessibility and affordability.
April 15-17, 2008 – Hosted the apostolic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Washington, which included a Papal Mass at Nationals Park, as well as addresses to and meetings with the bishops of the U.S., educators, representatives of other religions, and President George W. Bush at the White House.
- Pope Benedict Came Bearing Witness to “Christ Our Hope,” Seek First the Kingdom, April 16, 2018
- At Mass at Nationals Park, pope encourages Catholics in U.S. to build upon legacy of faith and hope, Catholic Standard, April 18, 2008
- Joy remains from Pope Benedict’s journey of love and hope, archbishop says, Catholic Standard, May 9, 2008
September 14, 2008 – The pastoral letter Catholic Education: Looking to the Future with Confidence is issued, reflecting on the previous convocations on catechesis and Catholic education and the practical steps to be taken to ensure that Catholic schools and parish religious education programs remain strongly rooted in the Catholic vision and affordable to families. This consultative process involving about 12,000 people – parents, educators, pastors and parishioners – would subsequently produce new Policies for Catholic Schools, which give clear direction on school planning and operations. In the years following, the amounts awarded in archdiocesan tuition assistance for families in need increased substantially, from $800,000 in 2007 to $6 million in 2017.
March 2009 – Oversaw the production of an archdiocesan series of guides called “Keeping Kids Safe” to educate parents on recognizing, reporting and protecting their children from abuse.
April-December 2009 – Provided strong leadership in the face of unjust proposed legislation by the D.C. Council that would undermine the institution of marriage and the freedom of the archdiocese and other faith-based organizations to fully participate in society and serve the public.
- Archdiocese on D.C. City Council Vote to Recognize Same-Sex Relationships from Other States, May 5, 2009
- Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington on DC City Council Bill to Redefine Marriage in the Nation’s Capital, October 6, 2009
- C.’s same-sex marriage bill: Finding the balance, by Cardinal Wuerl, Washington Post, November 17, 2009
- Archbishop Wuerl urges strong religious freedom exemption in same-sex marriage bill, Catholic Standard, November 24, 2009
September 20, 2009 – Helped push open the doors of the reconstructed 1667 Brick Chapel in Historic St. Mary’s City, which stands as a sign of religious freedom prevailing over oppression.
October 6, 2009 – Published A Pastoral Message for Homosexual Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington, which reaffirmed Catholic teaching on the fundamental dignity of every human person and assuring those with a same-sex attraction who seek a deeper relationship with Christ are welcome in the Church.
April 5, 2010 – Released Easter letter expressing sorrow for the pain experienced by persons who have suffered sexual abuse by clergy, and discussing the efforts undertaken by the Church in seeking healing for them, accountability for those who committed such crimes, and protection for children now and into the future.
August 14, 2010 – Implemented the “Indicators of Vitality,” a self-assessment tool for pastors and parishioners to clarify current needs and strategically plan in the five core areas of parish life: worship, education, service, community and administration.
August 23, 2010 – Issued Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision, a pastoral letter on the New Evangelization, which would become Cardinal Wuerl’s signature initiative. Echoing the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, in this letter, he reflected on how, in the face of the challenges of aggressive secularism, materialism and individualism, “we can stir into flame the embers of the Gospel message and Christ’s love in our own hearts in such a way that we not only grow in our own faith, but invite others to hear once again, maybe all over again for the first time, the exciting invitation of Jesus,” adding, “I hope all of us will see the New Evangelization as a lens through which we see everything that we are doing.” Pope Benedict would subsequently name him to lead the world-wide 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.
September 8, 2010 – The monthly and periodic e-letter is launched, providing direct reports to people on matters of concern, as well as inviting them as part of the New Evangelization to renew their faith and to share God’s love and truth with others.
October 24, 2010 – Inaugurated the annual White Mass, which recognizes the equal dignity of persons with disabilities and special needs, and celebrates the diverse gifts they offer in their participation in the Church and society.
November 20, 2010 – Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl was made a Cardinal by Pope Benedict during a consistory in Rome.
November 2010 – Instituted the annual Find the Perfect Gift Advent campaign to encourage people to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas and the gift of receiving and sharing faith in Jesus Christ, and to invite those who have been away from the Church to come home.
December 29, 2010 – Named by Pope Benedict as delegate to implement the establishment of a personal ordinariate for Anglican groups entering corporately into full communion with the Catholic Church.
May 2011 – The archdiocesan Secretariat for Communications was created as part of the practical implementation of the New Evangelization. This effort included a redesigned website to better engage people with the Church and the increased use of multimedia content and social media tools to reach out to active and inactive Catholics and the greater community.
October 22, 2011 – Blessed and dedicated the archdiocese’s new Blessed John Paul II Seminary, a college-level house of priestly formation, with 20 young men in the first class.
February 26, 2012 – The popular blog Seek First the Kingdom was launched.
May 21, 2012 – Authorized a lawsuit against the federal government to defend the fundamental religious liberties of the archdiocese and other faith-based employers that were violated by the so-called HHS mandate, which required employee insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations, contrary to natural justice and Catholic teaching. The archdiocese was joined by dozens of Catholic institutions and other employers nationwide, and it prevailed in the challenge with a binding settlement issued October 2017.
- In Defense of Our Rights, Seek First the Kingdom, May 21, 2012
- Catholic leaders say lawsuit aims to protect religious freedom, Catholic Standard, May 22, 2012
- Defending our First Freedom, PreserveReligiousFreedom.com
- Good News in the On-Going Challenges to Our Religious Liberties, Seek First the Kingdom, October 18, 2017
July 4, 2012 – Celebrated the closing Mass of the first Fortnight for Freedom at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
August 15, 2012 – Publicly announced intention to convoke a Synod in 2014 for the Archdiocese of Washington, which would reflect upon the areas of worship, education, service, community and administration in light of the New Evangelization and the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the archdiocese. Preparatory meetings for the Synod involving several hundred members of the lay faithful began on September 8, followed by listening sessions in parishes and throughout the archdiocese.
September 14, 2012 – Issued the pastoral letter The Church, Our Spiritual Home in anticipation of the Year of Faith and 2014 Archdiocesan Synod, affirming that the Catholic Church is not a club, special interest group or political organization, but is the enduring, visible presence of Christ in today’s world. Cardinal Wuerl encouraged people to deepen their faith, be confident of what the Church teaches, and share that faith in the face of secularist challenges.
- In new pastoral letter on the Church, Cardinal Wuerl encourages Catholics to help transform the world with their faith, Catholic Standard, October 3, 2012
October 7-28, 2012 – Served as the relator general for the Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, convoked by Pope Benedict XVI, offering an initial report to guide the discussions and a final report on the synod fathers’ deliberations.
- Greetings from Rome, Seek First the Kingdom, October 4, 2012
- Cardinal Wuerl says evangelization should be relevant, rooted in tradition, Catholic Standard, October 9, 2012
- A Fresh Perspective on the New Evangelization, Seek First the Kingdom, October 22, 2012
- “The New Evangelization Today,” Seek First the Kingdom, June 15, 2016
March 12-13, 2013 – Participated in the conclave of cardinals that elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis.
May 19, 2013 – Began the next phase of the Archdiocesan Synod process, in which participants analyzed more than 15,000 suggestions offered through parish and regional listening sessions and online surveys to determine formal goals and recommendations for action.
- To Be the Best Church We Can Be, Seek First the Kingdom, May 15, 2013
- Cardinal Wuerl decrees Synod to coincide with Archdiocese of Washington’s 75th anniversary, Catholic Standard, May 22, 2013
- Synod participants working to offer final recommendations for ‘building a better Church’, Catholic Standard, October 23, 2013
June 8, 2014 – Concluded the first Archdiocesan Synod of the Church of Washington following two years of planning and consultation with a broad cross-section of the faithful and clergy of the archdiocese. Promulgated formal statutes to govern the archdiocese after accepting the comprehensive recommendations of Synod members for ways to renew and strengthen the parishes, ministries and work of the archdiocese in the key areas of worship, education, community, service, administration and stewardship, as set forth in the pastoral letter Manifesting the Kingdom.
June 28-29, 2014 – Offered Mass at the reconstructed Brick Chapel in St. Mary’s City and on St. Clement’s Island where the first Catholic settlers landed on March 25, 1634, as part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary the establishment of the Archdiocese of Washington, and as reminders of the area’s legacy as the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States.
- 75th Anniversary Masses and Our Foundation of Faith, Seek First the Kingdom, June 28, 2014
- Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates 75th Anniversary of Archdiocese of Washington with Masses at Historic Sites in Southern Maryland, Archdiocese of Washington, June 29, 2014
- Cardinal Wuerl celebrates Mass on St. Clement’s Island, site of first Mass in English-speaking colonies, July 1, 2014
- Reflections on Religious Liberty, e-letter of July 3, 2014
August 14, 2014 – Challenged people to speak out and national and world leaders to take action to protect persecuted Christians in the Middle East and throughout the world.
- In Solidarity with Our Brothers and Sisters in the Middle East, e-letter of August 14, 2014
- “Why a silence?”, Seek First the Kingdom, August 28, 2014
- Our Suffering Christian Family, e-letter of February 23, 2015
- Text of Cardinal Wuerl’s letter urging solidarity with persecuted Christians, Catholic Standard, October 23, 2017
September 21, 2014 – Celebrated Mass for the 75th anniversary of the archdiocese, which was erected by Pope Pius XII on July 22, 1939.
- Celebrating 75 Years of Manifesting the Kingdom, Seek First the Kingdom, January 12, 2014
- Homily: 75th Anniversary Mass of the Archdiocese of Washington, Seek First the Kingdom, September 21, 2014
- At Archdiocese of Washington’s 75th anniversary Mass, Cardinal Wuerl says the journey of faith continues, Catholic Standard, September 23, 2014
- 75th Anniversary of the Archdiocese of Washington, Catholic Standard, September 24, 2014
- 75th Anniversary, Archdiocese of Washington
October 5-19, 2014 – Participated in the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.
- The Church’s Mission of Mercy to Families, Seek First the Kingdom, October 2, 2014
- October 2014 Synod on the Family, by Cardinal Wuerl, Catholic Standard, October 8, 2014
- Reflections from the Synod, e-letter of October 17, 2014
- Cardinal Wuerl’s interview on Synod on the Family, Catholic Standard, October 30, 2014
- Synod on the Family: Where Do We Go From Here?, Catholic Standard, November 5, 2014
May 24, 2015 – Announced in the pastoral letter Being Catholic Today: Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge a renewed effort to protect and promote the inherent freedoms and identity of the Church’s members and institutions in the face of social and legal efforts to marginalize people of faith.
- Cardinal Wuerl issuing a new pastoral letter on Catholic identity, Catholic Standard, May 22, 2015
- Being Catholic Today: Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge, Seek First the Kingdom, May 26, 2015
- The Freedom to be True to Our Catholic Identity, Seek First the Kingdom, July 4, 2015
- At the Service of the Truth and Love of Jesus Christ, Seek First the Kingdom, December 31, 2015
- Communion in Service to Jesus Christ and His Church, Seek First the Kingdom, April 27, 2016
June 18, 2015 – Encouraged parishes, schools and the faithful to apply the teachings of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ on greater respect for the environment and sustainable development.
- Papal encyclical offers a ‘moral framework’ on protecting God’s creation, says Cardinal Wuerl and USCCB president, Catholic Standard, June 18, 2015
- Remarks at the National Press Club, Seek First the Kingdom, June 18, 2015
- Adding a Needed Voice to the Conversation on Ecology, June 19, 2015
- Caring for God’s Gift of Creation, Seek First the Kingdom, June 20, 2015
- Discovering What Pope Francis Really Said in Laudato Si’, Seek First the Kingdom, July 7, 2015
- World Day of Prayer for Creation, e-letter of September 1, 2015
September 22-24, 2015 – Hosted the apostolic visit of Pope Francis to Washington, which included a White House welcome, an outdoor Mass for the Canonization of St. Junipéro Serra, the 18th century Franciscan missionary to California, on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a first-ever papal address to a joint meeting of Congress, and meetings with the bishops of the U.S. and clients of Catholic Charities.
- Awaiting the Arrival of Pope Francis, e-letter of September 8, 2015
- A Look Back at the Visit of Pope Francis, e-letter of September 25, 2015
- Pope Francis encounters the poor at Catholic Charities, Catholic Standard, September 25, 2015
- Pope Francis canonizes Junípero Serra, says faith is alive only when shared, Catholic Standard, September 28, 2015
- 2015 Papal Visit, Archdiocese of Washington
- Walk With Francis, Archdiocese of Washington
October 4-25, 2015 – Participated in the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World.
- Opening of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, Seek First the Kingdom, October 3, 2015
- ‘The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World’, by Cardinal Wuerl, Catholic Standard, October 6, 2015
- In video messages, Cardinal Wuerl reflects on Synod on the Family in Rome, Catholic Standard, October 20, 2015
- Conclusion of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, Seek First the Kingdom, October 26, 2015
- Reflections on the Synod of Bishops, by Cardinal Wuerl, Catholic Standard, November 16, 2015
January 6, 2016 – Marked the 30th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop.
April 8, 2016 – Applauded the release of Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis and encouraged the implementation of its teachings.
- On Love in the Family: The Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Seek First the Kingdom, April 8, 2016
- The Pastoral Implications of Amoris Laetitia, Seek First the Kingdom, April 22, 2016
- Open to the Movement of the Holy Spirit, e-letter of May 5, 2016
- Cardinal Wuerl’s letter to priests on ‘Amoris Laetitia’, Catholic Standard, October 5, 2016
October 28, 2016 – Blessed the construction site for the completion of the Trinity Dome mosaic at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
- Cardinal Wuerl blesses Trinity Dome where mosaic installation will mark National Shrine’s completion, Catholic Standard, October 30, 2016
December 17, 2016 – Marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
May 4, 2017 – Offered prayer at the White House for the National Day of Prayer.
June 17, 2017 – Ordained to the priesthood members of the first class of seminarians at the Saint John Paul II Seminary.
- Rejoicing in the Ordination of New Priests, e-letter of June 2, 2017
- Cardinal Wuerl ordains four new priests for archdiocese, including pioneer members of Saint John Paul II Seminary, Catholic Standard, June 17, 2018
- At dedication of new seminary wing, cardinal says most important growth takes place in hearts, Catholic Standard, August 29, 2017
November 1, 2017 – Issued the pastoral letter The Challenge of Racism Today, reaffirming that each person in equal in God’s image and renewing the archdiocese’s resolve to face, confront and overcome the evil and sin of racism and other forms of intolerance and prejudice that deny fundamental human dignity.
December 8, 2017 – Dedicated the newly-completed Trinity Dome at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
February 3, 2018 – Blessed and dedicated special bronze memorials recognizing and honoring African-Americans of the past who were enslaved and buried in unmarked graves in cemeteries in what is now the Archdiocese of Washington.
March 4, 2018 – Released Sharing in the Joy of Love in Marriage and Family, a detailed pastoral plan to implement the teachings of Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. The pastoral plan encourages parishes and ministries to serve as welcoming places for all in light of the challenges that individuals, couples and families face in a highly secularized culture, and invites people to participate in the life of the Church.
May 7, 2018 – Dedicated a first-of-its-kind stormwater management infrastructure project at Mount Olivet Cemetery as part of the archdiocese’s ongoing efforts in caring for the environment, as called for in Laudato Si’.