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US cardinal facing calls to resign cancels appearance at World Meeting of Families

Donald Wuerl was due to speak on Wednesday.

File photo of Wuerl in 2016.
File photo of Wuerl in 2016.
Image: PA Images

A CATHOLIC CARDINAL who is facing calls to resign has cancelled his planned appearance at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin (WMOF).

Meanwhile Taoiaseach Leo Varadkar has said he believes the Pope should meet with survivors of clerical sex abuse during his visit to Dublin.

Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, was this week accused of helping to protect some abusers while he was bishop of the Pennsylvania city of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.

Wuerl has defended his actions in Pittsburgh while apologising for the damage inflicted on victims.

He was due to speak in Dublin on Wednesday as a keynote speaker at WMOF under the theme, ‘the welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world’.

A spokesperson for WMOF confirmed that he will no longer be speaking at this event, but advised contacting the Archdiocese of Washington for further details.

The director of media relations for the diocese declined to comment.

Earlier this week the Vatican’s child protection chair Sean O’Malley withdrew from a WMOF panel on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

His withdrawal follows allegations of abuse at St John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston, where he serves.

Wuerl has faced widespread scepticism over his recent insistence that he knew nothing about years of alleged sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, his predecessor.

CORRECTION Sex Abuse Embattled Cardinal Wuerl meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican in 2015. Source: PA Images

The Washington Archdiocese, home to more than 630,000 Catholics, is considered an important power center for the church in the US, and Wuerl has been ranked by commentators as one of the most influential of the 10 active American cardinals.

Some conservative Catholics are calling for his resignation or ouster, and a petition is circulating to remove his name from a parochial high school in suburban Pittsburgh.

Wuerl has said he has no plans to resign. He apologised this week for the damage inflicted on the victims but also defended his actions in Pennsylvania.

Meeting with survivors 

Speaking to reporters at the Fleadh Cheoil in Drogheda, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he has no doubt Pope Francis will want to address the issues of child sex abuse when he visits Dublin next weekend.

“We should listen to what he has to say,” Varadkar said, while declining to reveal exactly what he will say to the Pope ‘out of courtesy and protocol’ until the meeting takes place.

Responding to a question from 3News, Varadkar said the Pope should meet with survivors, but “ultimately that is a decision for himself”.

Contains reporting by The Associated Press

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