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Cardinal Wuerl Is Out... Or Is He?

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, greets a woman.

Embattled Cardinal Wuerl is finally out after Pope Francis accepted his resignation. Wuerl was named in the Pennsylvania grand jury report accusing him of being responsible for shuffling known predator priests around. In one egregious case, he allegedly paid off a priest who was involved in a child porn ring. It is disturbing to many Catholics that Wuerl is being allowed to retire with all his benefits after so terrible a cover-up, but at one point it was debatable whether he would even resign. USA Today reported: "A Vatican statement Friday said Francis had accepted Wuerl’s resignation, but named no replacement; Wuerl’s office said he had been asked to stay on in a temporary capacity until a new archbishop is found."

So even after all the scandal, Wuerl isn't going anywhere. He's staying right where he is, doing the same job he's always done while the pope "searches for a replacement." One would think the pontiff has a list as long as his arm of replacements already queued up. He has known about this situation for months. This non-action allows the pope to claim he is doing something while not actually doing anything that brings about change. When Catholics around the country cried out for Wuerl's resignation, they meant his immediate removal. This is a man who has lost the respect of the faithful. They have taken his name off of schools. Parishioners have protested during mass, standing with their backs to him or shouting out during his homily. This man cannot continue in his current position as if he still has any moral authority. He doesn't.

The idea that the pope would not immediately remove him and place an interim bishop in that position — when the people have been protesting since the Pennsylvania report that named over 300 predator priests — is unthinkable. It is the worst scandal in the history of the Church in the United States and not even one head has rolled with anything close to a satisfying thud.

This is not the action that people of God expect their moral authority to take. This leaves us wondering if the pope retains any knowledge of good and evil at all. Do we have to write it in the sky for him? CHILD MOLESTING IS EVIL. COVERING UP CHILD MOLESTING IS EVIL. The Church can have no part in it. The pope should have no problem issuing walking papers to anyone who was involved in this. Cardinal Wuerl was involved up to his eyebrows. There are letters in his own handwriting (see the Pennsylvania report) detailing molesters' crimes and yet he continued to move them to active service in other parishes where they preyed on more children. This is an outrage.