Pope Francis accepts resignation of Washington archbishop in sex abuse crisis

Pope Francis, right, greets the Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl during the pope’s first visit to the US on September 2015. (Reuters)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Pope Francis accepts resignation of Washington archbishop in sex abuse crisis

  • Cardinal Donald Wuerl has been under scrutiny over his handling of sexual abuse cases
  • Wuerl has defended his overall record in Pittsburgh

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington, D.C., the Vatican said on Friday, making him one of the most senior Catholic figures to step down in a worldwide sexual abuse crisis.
Wuerl, 77, who was bishop of Pittsburgh between 1988 and 2006, has been under scrutiny over his handling of sexual abuse cases during that period. He keeps the title of cardinal.
In a letter by the pope released in Washington, Francis indicated that he accepted the resignation reluctantly and at Wuerl’s insistence. He asked Wuerl to stay on as administrator until another archbishop could be appointed.
Wuerl has been under fire since the release in August of a US Grand Jury report on sexual abuse found evidence that at least 1,000 people, mostly children, had been sexually abused by some 300 clergymen over the course of 70 years. The report covered six dioceses in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh when it was led by Wuerl.
He has also been accused of knowing about sexual misconduct by his predecessor in Washington, ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Wuerl has defended his overall record in Pittsburgh. He also has denied knowing that McCarrick, once one of the US Church’s most prominent figures, had forced male adult seminarians to have sex with him years ago.
In July McCarrick became the first cardinal in about 100 years to be stripped of his red hat and title of “eminence.”
Francis ordered McCarrick to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after American Church officials said as part of a separate investigation that allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.


Macron reshuffles government, names new interior minister

Updated 16 October 2018
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Macron reshuffles government, names new interior minister

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron reshuffled his government on Tuesday after two weeks of fevered speculation about the changes, which will see former Socialist MP Christophe Castaner take up the key position of interior minister.
The reshuffle was forced by the unexpected resignation of former interior minister Gerard Collomb on October 2, a major blow to Macron as the 40-year-old head of state struggles with record low polling figures.
Castaner is one of the main figures in Macron’s inner circle, having backed him from the early stages of his campaign for the presidency, and currently serves as head of Macron’s party, the Republic on the Move.
Macron will hope the reshaped government — which includes new faces at the culture, agriculture, and the so-called “social cohesion” ministries — will signal a fresh start after a torrid few months.
The centrist suffered the first major scandal of his presidency in July when a security aide was filmed hitting a protester, while three ministers have quit since the beginning of September.
A slowing economy and concerns about spending power in France, coupled with a series of verbal gaffes that have given ammunition to his opponents, have also served to undermine his popularity.
Macron’s polling numbers have slumped to their lowest level since his electoral victory in May 2017, with surveys showing that only around 30 percent of French voters have a positive view of his presidency.