Pope Names Pittsburgh Bishop Donald W. Wuerl as the Archbishop of Washington

May 16, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI today named Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh as the new Archbishop of Washington. He will succeed Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick. Cardinal McCarrick, who has served as Washington’s archbishop since January 2001, offered his resignation to the Holy Father in July 2005, when he turned 75 years old, in accord with canon law.

The Cardinal will remain as Apostolic Administrator until Archbishop-designate Wuerl’s installation on June 22, 2006.

“With humble heart I express my gratitude to our Holy Father for his confidence in assigning me to this important archdiocese which in its own right is a significant Catholic center, but is all the more distinguished as the location of the nation’s capital. Although I am greatly aware of my own limitations, I find strength in the Pope’s trust and also in the prayerful support I have always found from the Catholic faithful I have attempted to serve,” Archbishop-designate Wuerl said.

He continued, “I look forward to coming to know the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of this archdiocesan Church. It is a great privilege for me to become a part of this faith-filled and dynamic Church. With joy I anticipate visiting the many vibrant parishes. I am also aware of and look forward to experiencing its rich cultural diversity.”

“While I have a great deal to learn about this archdiocesan Church, I already have some strong ties to this community. I studied at Catholic University and have subsequently served on its board for many years. I have also visited this city many times in conjunction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops where I have been a member for 20 years,” he said.

“Of the faithful of the Church of Washington, I would like to ask your support and most particularly your prayers. Undertaking an assignment of this magnitude can be daunting. Yet I recognize the power of prayer and what faith and God’s grace can accomplish in each of us. In all of my priestly and episcopal ministry I have always tried to do the very best I can with the collaboration and help of those around me and with reliance on God’s grace. I would like to pledge to all of the faithful of this Church my love and unstinting ministry as your shepherd,” Archbishop-designate Wuerl noted.

A native of Pittsburgh, the 65-year-old Archbishop-designate was born on November 12, 1940. Ordained a priest in 1966, he was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II 20 years later. His first assignment was as auxiliary bishop of Seattle. In 1988, he was installed as Bishop of Pittsburgh where he has been the spiritual leader to approximately 800,000 Catholics worshipping in 214 parishes in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Archbishop-designate Wuerl is widely known as a theologian, educator and author. He has been active in ecumenical and interfaith relations and in many organizations dedicated to serving the greater community.

Archbishop-designate Wuerl hosts the television program, “The Teaching of Christ,” broadcast on CBS, the Christian Associates cable channel, and through national syndication. His best-selling adult catechism of the same name has been translated into more than 10 languages and is used throughout the world. His most recent publication, The Catholic Way, was published by Doubleday in September 2001.

He has served on numerous national and international boards and committees. He is chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Catechesis, chairman of the board of directors of the National Catholic Educational Association, and past chairman of the board of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. He serves as a board member of The Catholic University of America, the North American College in Rome and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center. He is past chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Education.

The archbishop-designate received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America, the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in theology from the University of St. Thomas in Rome, in 1974.

“It is with a deep sense of gratitude to the Holy Father that I welcome Archbishop Donald Wuerl to Washington as our new shepherd and guide. He has been a wonderful friend to me over so many years and I have watched with delight and deep respect the great things that the Church of Pittsburgh has accomplished under his leadership. I truly cannot think of a better choice for Washington than Bishop Donald Wuerl,” Cardinal McCarrick said.

He continued, “I believe that his time with us will be a golden age in grace and progress, and I look forward to watching all the good things that you and he will do together. May God bless him on his journey with us as He certainly has blessed us in sending him to us as the sixth bishop of this holy Church of Washington.”

Founded in 1939, the Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 560,000 Catholics who worship in 140 parishes located in Washington, DC and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland. Each year, the 112 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese educate nearly 33,000 students. The largest non-public social service organization in the region, the Archdiocese and its affiliated agencies, including Catholic Community Services and Victory Housing, provide shelter, food, counseling, medical care, legal assistance, employment training and more to over 120,000 people each year.

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Susan Gibbs
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