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Religious Tolerance logo


Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in Pennsylvania, Germany, etc:

2018-AUG to 2018-SEP:
Cardinal Donald Wuerl attacked.
Catholic woman leaves church.
Pope Francis' rating drops.

Part 4 of eight parts:

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This topic continues here from the previous essay.

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2018-AUG-30: Attacks on Cardinal Donald Wuerl:

Cardinal Wuerl was the former bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese where about one third of the alleged abusive priests in Pennsylvania were or are located. He is the current Archbishop in Washington DC, and is under increasing pressure to resign his post:

  • Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington DC, said: "As a Catholic, my personal opinion is that Cardinal Wuerl should step aside in light of the sex abuse allegations in the Pennsylvania report and increasing reports of more abuse survivors.
  • Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, said: "I think Cardinal Wuerl is a good man, and I have enjoyed knowing him. But at some point the leader in a crisis has to know when to stay and try to fix the situation, and when deciding to step aside is an act of accountability and atonement. I don't think Cardinal Wuerl is as culpable as some of his critics say, but at some point a leader has to step aside to let the healing process begin."

  • Some faculty from Holy Trinity School in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC protested at a local Mass for Catholic schools as an "act of solidarity against the injustices condoned by Cardinal Wuerl." They sent a public letter to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican's abmassador to the U.S., calling for Wuerl's "immediate removal."

  • Jack Devlin, a schoolteacher attended the protest, said: "... for every good thing that Cardinal Wuerl did, there were enough negative things that he did that we find unforgivable." 1

In contrast:

  • Kim Viti Fiorentino, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, said that the calls for the Cardinal to resign are: "... misguided and mistaken. If you look at his record on child protection, not only is he one of the leaders in this area and one of the historic pioneers really in this area, but he has spent his entire priesthood (and) his episcopacy dedicated to protecting children, and if people reflect on his full record and the facts, they will see that."

  • Rev. Lou Vallone is a priest who worked with Cardinal Wuerl while he was bishop of Pittsburgh. He said: We have a mob mentality right now, where everyone is saying 'Off with all their heads!' Everyone is enraged. But would the next archbishop of Washington really be any more 'perfect' than Wuerl?" 1

On SEP-13, Zia H Shaw, writing for the Muslim Times, said:

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has faced increasing calls for his resignation over his handling of sexual abuse cases, wrote on Tuesday [SEP-11] that he will soon discuss with Pope Francis the possibility of stepping down as leader of the Archdiocese of Washington. ... he acknowledged that many Catholics have questions about their bishop’s ability to lead them in the midst of the exploding sexual abuse crisis in the church. ..."

Wuerl wrote to the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington:

"At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these terrible actions and have questions about their bishop’s ability to provide the necessary leadership."

He already sent his resignation to Pope Francis three years ago when he reached the customary retirement age of 75. 2

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A loss experienced by a former Roman Catholic:

grew up in the Roman Catholic diocese of Scranton, PA. She is now an Agnostic, affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist church, and married to another woman. Writing for, she said:

"Recent scandals highlighting sexual abuse within the Catholic Diocese of Scranton have left me sick. Though I was never touched by the named priests, I knew several of them growing up. I grieve their victims; I grieve my hometown; I grieve the faith those men have shattered. ..."

"... when respondents say 'the church' is at fault, they hurl barbs at church members as much as at church administrators -- and I don’t know if that’s fair. ..."

The Catholic Church is not just priests, nor the Vatican. It wasn’t to me then; it isn’t to me now. The Catholic Church is its members, and their grief in the wake of horrific scandal is not a howl of institutional loss -- their loyalties aren’t to the pope or the bishop. It is a howl of pain for the loss of sacred, secular community. The loss of an ancient sense of shared identity -- not spiritual identity, but human identity. The loss of a living, flesh-and-blood meeting place in themselves and in one another where their grandparents and great-grandparents still exist in the flickering ether. The loss of God’s arms, a place." 3

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2018-SEP-14: Recent polls show favorability rating of Pope Francis is dropping rapidly:

The most recent poll was conducted before news was broadcast that the Pope has called an unprecedented meeting of top officials in the church over the sexual abuse scandal. This meeting will probably affect his favorability rating, depending on how successful it is bellieved to be.

According to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS:

The approval rating of the Pope by American adults was:

  • 72% in 2013-DEC, a few months after he became Pope,
  • 66% in 2017-JAN,
  • 48% in early 2018-SEP.
  • The poll's margin of error is ±3.8 percentage points.

Among American Roman Catholics, approval rating of the Pope was:

  • 83% in 2017-MAR,
  • 63% in early 2018-SEP.

Among U.S. Democrats, approval rating of the Pope was:

  • 79% in 2017-MAR,
  • 57% in early 2018-SEP.

Among U.S. Republicans, approval rating of the Pope was:

  • 54% in 2017-MAR,
  • 36% in early 2018-SEP. 5

On the other hand, according to a poll by a different agency: Gallup:

On 2018-SEP-12:

  • Among all Americans in August, 66% had a favorable rating of Pope Francis; in September it had dropped to 53%.

  • U.S. Catholics' opinions of the pope have not shifted. In August, 78% had a favorable view; in September, it had actually risen to 79%.

  • Among non-Catholic U.S. adults, 72% had a favorable view in 2014. This dropped to 63% in August and 45% in September. 4

Webmaster's note:

We have never seen two polls by reputable polling agencies like SSRS and Gallup who have found such incompatable results.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Daniel Burke & Rosa Flores, "Growing Catholic insurgency threatens top cardinal in Washington, "CNN, 2018-AUG-30, at:
  2. Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, "Cardinal Donald Wuerl says he will go to the pope soon to discuss his potential resignation," The Washington Post, 2018-SEP-11, at:
  3. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski, "Tenderness and Horror," Slate, 2018-SEP-04, at:
  4. Grace Sparks "CNN Poll: Pope Francis' favorability plummets," CNN, 2018-SEP-12, at:
  5. R.J. Reinhart, "Pope Francis Favorability Down Sharply in U.S.," Gallup, 2018-SEP-18, at:
  6. Chico Harlan, "With call for pope to resign, divisions within the Catholic Church explode into view," the Washington Post, 2018-AUG-27, at:

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How you might have arrived here:

 Home page > Religious Info. > Basic info > Clergy sex abuse > here

or Home page > Religious Violence > Clergy sex abuse > here

or Home page > Christianity > Roman Catholicism > Clergy sex abuse > here

Copyright © 2018 Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2018-AUG-21
Latest update: 2019-JAN-11

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