The pope’s man in Washington

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Cardinal Wuerl and Pope Francis greet seminarians at St. John Paul II Seminary during the pope's visit to Washington on Sept. 23. Photo by Paul Fetters, courtesy of Archdiocese of Washington

Cardinal Wuerl and Pope Francis greet seminarians at St. John Paul II Seminary during the pope's visit to Washington on Sept. 23. Photo by Paul Fetters, courtesy of Archdiocese of Washington

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(RNS) Cardinal Donald Wuerl just turned 75 and submitted his resignation to Pope Francis. But don't wave goodbye yet -- Wuerl is too valuable to the pontiff, and to the future of the "Francis effect."

  • Betty Clermont

    Pope Francis’ “reformist agenda”? Pope Francis recently went to Uganda and Kenya. “The Catholic Church in Uganda has been in alliance with all the other Churches in condemning and discriminating against LGBTI persons” (aljazeera.com) where “homosexuality is illegal and attacks against gays have forced many to seek refuge abroad or lead secret lives at home.” (usnews.com) The leading cause of maternal death in Kenya is unsafe abortion. “More than 70 percent of women seeking post-abortion care in Kenya were not using contraception.” That country also has the fourth-largest HIV epidemic in the world. (aljazeera.com) During the Q&A with journalists on the trip from Africa back to Rome, a reporter pointed out to Pope Francis that “In Uganda alone there were 135,000 new infections of HIV, in Kenya it’s worse. It’s the greatest cause of death in Africa.” He asked the pope, “Is it not time for the Church … to allow the use of condoms to prevent more infections?” The pope changed the…

  • Lance Woodruff

    David Gibson’s report on Cardinal Donald Wuerl, ‘The pope’s man in Washington,’ is the most helpful overview of seen both of the personages and the state of the Catholic church. I’m not a Catholic, but I greatly appreciate this essay.

  • Curt Schmidt

    The last time I checked, the Pope had/has absolute authority over every single institutional issue/question/decision. He also has the entire Vatican bureaucracy to assist in making his choices known. St. John Paul II certainly did his best to finalize the issue of ordaining women.

    Could not Francis remove every bishop opposed to his reform agenda? They would still be bishops — ordained forever — but just not in charge of anything — servants who could be sent, as if they were Jesuits, to any corner of the marginalized world to minister to the poorest on earth. Francis could then replace those bishops with ones who understand how a shepherd of souls should communicate dogma and authority.

    Either the Pope has this authority, or he doesn’t. John Paul II certainly ran the Church with assurance that what he ordered would be carried out. Must we take seven years’ energy away from reforms so badly needed, while we wait for Francis to replace half of America’s bishops?