Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington DC, has recently been elevated to the rank of Cardinal. I didn’t realize his ascension through the ecclesiastical ranks would be as big a story as it has been, but there has been no shortage of ink spent on it and Wuerl’s life.
I’ve been aware of Wuerl for quite some time, as he is a Pittsburgh native and formally the Archbishop of Pittsburgh. He is considered to be theologically conservative, which is a nice way of saying he is stuck in the 15th century. Lost in the uniformity and generally flattering articles written about the man are a few of his more egregious moments:
- He supports determining whether a pro-choice Catholic politician should be denied Communion on an individual basis. While this is considerably more progressive than some of his counterparts that wish to deny communion to any pro-choice politician, please note he says nothing about denying pro-death penalty politicians. According to the church, these “sins” are equal.
- He was quoted as saying: “The Catholic Church … holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times”. So according to him, the church is not supposed to change even though everything else we know or think is subject to reevaluation?
- When DC was debating same sex marriage, Wuerl issued a particularly insidious statement saying Catholic charities would no longer be able to assist in adoptions were this law to pass. While clearly an ultimatum, he backed off the statement slightly, only to end spousal benefits for employees of Catholic charities after the city legalized same-sex marriages.
None of this should come as a surprise as the current Pontiff is about as reactionary as we can possibly imagine — and would stand to reason he’d elevate similarly backward members.
It should be noted though that Wuerl has been critical of the church’s handling of priests that engaged in child rape. He even successfully lobbied against reinstating a priest that allegedly tortured children in his care. While compared to the evil and criminal Bernard Law, Weurl certainly seems like an enlightened choice. But wasn’t his reaction exactly what any of us would do? Can you imagine a school teacher not protesting to his superiors over the recent hiring of a known pederast? This just strikes me as basic decency and sanity over Wuerl having some sort of intrinsic wisdom.
I am not a Roman Catholic, so I could be missing something here — but I simply do not understand why this man deserves such adulation. I honestly invite the faithful to let me know in the comments — especially my many liberal Catholic friends out there.