Keynote speaker for World Meeting of Families withdraws from event following clerical abuse cover-up 3 years ago

Keynote speaker for World Meeting of Families withdraws from event following clerical abuse cover-up

This is the second US clergyman to retract their attendance this week.

A Cardinal whose handling of child sexual abuse allegations was heavily criticised has withdrawn from a scheduled appearance at the same event in which Pope Francis will be in attendance in Dublin next weekend.


Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, was due to give the keynote address, entitled “The Welfare of the Family is Decisive for the Future of the World,” in the RDS at 2.30pm next Wednesday at the World Meeting of Families in Croke Park.

His last-minute extraction from the event follows a recently launched petition urging the Cardinal to resign as archbishop of Washington D.C.

This comes in the aftermath of the Pennsylvania grand jury’s findings that, as Bishop of Pittsburgh, Wuerl covered up sexual abuse and shuffled predatory priests between parishes, endangering the safety of children.

At time of writing, 2,614 people have signed the petition.


A grand jury report released on 14 August revealed that 301 priests were found to have abused more than 1,000 children in six Pennsylvania dioceses, all of which was covered up by church officials.

The three cases – concerning Fr Ernest Paone, Fr George Zirwas, and Fr Richard Zula – all involved Cardinal Wuerl.

The situation has been described as a decades-long “systematic” cover-up of priestly sex abuse.

Wuerl – an American prelate of the Catholic Church – is allegedly mentioned by name more than 200 times in the grand jury report.


He is the sixth Archbishop of Washington, serving since 2006. He previously served as Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle and Bishop of Pittsburgh.

According to the Irish Times, no reason has been given for the Cardinal's withdrawal.

Wuerl is the second US Cardinal who has pulled out of World Meeting of Families event thus far.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, announced on Wednesday of this week that he would also not be attending.


Cardinal O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, was scheduled to chair a discussion on Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults on Friday 24 August.

The Archdiocese of Boston released a short statement on Wednesday saying that Cardinal O'Malley would not be in attendance because “Important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and the seminarians enrolled in the formation program there require the cardinal’s personal attention and presence."

World Meeting of Families could not be contacted on this matter.