Donald William Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington
|Appointed||May 16, 2006|
|Installed||June 22, 2006|
|Predecessor||Theodore Edgar McCarrick|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Priest of San Pietro in Vincoli
Chancellor of the Catholic University of America
|Ordination||December 17, 1966
by Francis Frederick Reh
|Consecration||January 6, 1986
by John Paul II, Agostino Casaroli, and Bernardin Gantin
|Created Cardinal||November 20, 2010
by Benedict XVI
|Birth name||Donald William Wuerl|
November 12, 1940 |
|Motto||THY KINGDOM COME|
Donald William Wuerl
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
Ordination history of
Donald William Wuerl (born November 12, 1940) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He is the sixth Archbishop of Washington, serving since 2006. He previously served as Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle (1986–87) and Bishop of Pittsburgh (1988–2006). He was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Episcopal career
- 3 Public positions
- 4 Selected writings
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Early life and education
Donald Wuerl was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the second of four children of Francis and Mary Anna (née Schiffauer) Wuerl. He has two brothers, Wayne and Dennis, and a sister, Carol. His father worked nights weighing freight cars for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and served in the Navy during World War II. His mother died in 1944, and his father married Kathryn Cavanaugh in 1946.
Wuerl received his early education at the parochial school of St. Mary of the Mount Church in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh, graduating in 1958. He then attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he was a Basselin Scholar at Theological College, earning a bachelor's degree (1962) and master's degree (1963) in philosophy.
He continued his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He earned a master's degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1967. After ordination, Wuerl was sent to Rome for further theological study. He is an alumnus of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas Angelicum where he obtained a doctorate in theology in 1974.
He was ordained a priest on December 17, 1966. His first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. Rosalia parish in Pittsburgh's Greenfield neighborhood and as secretary to Pittsburgh's Bishop John Wright. After Wright was elevated to cardinal in 1969, Wuerl was his full-time secretary in Vatican City from 1969 until Wright's death in 1979. Because Cardinal Wright was recovering from surgery and confined to a wheelchair, Wuerl, as Wright's secretary, was one of three non-cardinals permitted inside the conclave that selected Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II in 1978.
In 1976, he, with Thomas Comerford Lawler and Ronald David Lawler, OFMCap, co-authored a catechism for adults, The Teaching of Christ, which has since appeared in several editions and has been widely translated.
Wuerl was rector at St. Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh from 1981 to 1985. In 1982, he was made executive secretary to Bishop John Marshall of Burlington, Vermont, who was leading a Vatican-mandated study of U.S. seminaries.
Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle
On December 3, 1985, Wuerl was appointed titular bishop of Rosemarkie and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Wuerl was consecrated bishop on January 6, 1986, at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy, by Pope John Paul II. Wuerl and Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen worked in adjoining offices without conflict for several months until, in May 1986, they found themselves with opposing positions on proposed state legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. At that point Hunthausen learned for the first time that Wuerl had been charged with responsibility–"complete and final decision-making power"–for several key areas normally within the Archbishop's control: worship and liturgy; the archdiocesan tribunal that considers requests for marriage annulments; seminarians, priestly formation and laicized priests; moral issues; and issues of health care and ministry to homosexuals. The division of authority only became public when Hunthausen announced it in September 1986. While some chancery officials expressed support for Wuerl, some questioned his role and saw little impact a year after his appointment. In November, Hunthausen won support for his objections to the Vatican's restrictions on his authority from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In February 1987, the Vatican announced that a commission of U.S. bishops would investigate the situation in Seattle, and Wuerl met privately with Pope John Paul II and declined to comment, saying "I'm just going to wait and see what the commission does". In May 1987, following a review by the commission headed by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Pope John Paul II restored Hunthausen's full authority as bishop, and appointed a coadjutor to assist and succeed Hunthausen. Wuerl later said the arrangement had been "unworkable". Following the restoration of Hunthausen's authority, Wuerl moved to a Pittsburgh suburb to await his next posting.
Bishop of Pittsburgh
In 1989, Wuerl merged Sacred Heart and St. Paul Cathedral High Schools to establish Oakland Catholic High School (all three female-only schools) in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, using the buildings of St. Paul Cathedral High School.
Wuerl launched and hosted a television program, The Teaching of Christ, in 1990 and wrote an adult catechism with the same name. He taught at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh as a distinguished service professor. Wuerl has served as a chaplain since 1999 for the Order of Malta, Federal Association, U.S.A., a division of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, commonly referred to as the Knights of Malta. Wuerl has also written regular columns in Columbia, the major publication of the Knights of Columbus in the United States.
Wuerl closed 73 church buildings, which included 37 churches, and reduced 331 parishes by 117 through merging while bishop of Pittsburgh; he was managing the remaining 214 parishes when he left in June 2006. Wuerl's plan, The Parish Reorganization and Revitalization Project, is now used as a model for other dioceses seeking parish suppression.
The mansion that housed Wuerl for over two decades, as well as his four predecessors in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, was sold since the new bishop David Zubik decided to live at St. Paul's Seminary. The Jacobethan Revival house along Fifth Avenue, at 9,842 square feet (914.4 m2) with 39 rooms including 11 bedrooms, six full baths, and a half-bath, had an appraised value of $1.5 million and is one of the largest homes in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. As of March 2009, the property was listed for sale at $2.5 million; it formerly enclosed an extensive collection of antiques, Oriental rugs, and art during Wuerl's residency. The property was sold to an anonymous private trust for over $2 million.
Archbishop of Washington
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Wuerl Archbishop of Washington on May 16, 2006. He was installed on June 22 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and received the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, 2006.
In April 2008 Wuerl, as Archbishop of Washington, hosted the apostolic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the District of Columbia, which included a visit to the White House, the celebration of Vespers at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Mass at the new Nationals Park, and an address at The Catholic University of America.
Wuerl was chairman of the board of directors of the National Catholic Educational Association from December 12, 2005, and was also chancellor of The Catholic University of America. In September 2010, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith named Wuerl its delegate in the United States for facilitating the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus issued by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2009 to provide for those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church in a corporate manner. He also heads the U.S. bishops' ad hoc committee to support that implementation.
Commitment to priestly formation
From 1994 until 2003, as Bishop of Pittsburgh, Wuerl served as a member of the board of governors of the Pontifical North American College in Rome (Chairman, 1998–1999), representing the Pennsylvania-New Jersey Region (Region III) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In 2008, as Archbishop of Washington he was again elected to the college's board of governors, this time representing the Washington DC-Delaware-Maryland-Virginia-West Virginia region of the conference (Region IV).
Elevation to College of Cardinals
On November 20, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI elevated Wuerl to the College of Cardinals in a public consistory held at Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. He was created Cardinal-Priest of S. Pietro in Vincoli.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Wuerl to the following: member of the Congregation for the Clergy and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (December 2010); Relator-General (recording secretary) of the 2012 World Synod of Bishops meeting on the New Evangelization (October 24, 2011); member of the Pontifical Council for Culture for a five-year renewable term (December 10, 2011); member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (April 21, 2012); and by Pope Francis, member of the Congregation for Bishops (December 16, 2013).
Child abuse zero tolerance
Wuerl has been a strong advocate within the Catholic hierarchy for confronting sexual abuse more directly. In September 1988 when he was serving as Bishop of Pittsburgh, he accepted a dinner invitation from a family suing the diocese for sexual abuse by a priest. Although the diocese's lawyers had discouraged Wuerl from attending the dinner, Wuerl became convinced that sexual abuse was a problem in his diocese. Wuerl settled the lawsuit with the family, and the priest involved was laicized and eventually ended up in prison. Wuerl told his staff that in cases of alleged sexual abuse, the first concern should be for the victim, the second concern should be for the victim's family, and only third should clergy consider the reputation of the Church.
In the years that followed, Wuerl investigated every priest in his diocese accused of sexual misconduct, and removed several. On one occasion, Wuerl successfully fought to laicize a priest whom the Vatican initially had protected.
In 2010, Wuerl argued that the Church has made progress in confronting abusers. He told Fox News Sunday that "we have succeeded in guaranteeing that if a priest is accused, and there is a credible allegation, he is simply removed from the ministry. That is reported to the authorities, and we begin to try to heal whatever was damaged in that abuse."
Religion and politics
In cases where politicians and officeholders take policy positions that are at odds with Church doctrine, Wuerl stated that the decision to provide communion should be decided on a case by case basis: "Our primary job is to teach and try to convince people. The tradition in our country has not been in the direction of refusing Communion, and I think it's served us well." Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese explained this position by saying "[Wuerl is] quite orthodox theologically, but he doesn't like to play cop; he's not an authoritarian person."
In 2009, the Council of the District of Columbia passed a same-sex marriage bill. In November 2009, Wuerl signed an ecumenical statement, known as the Manhattan Declaration, calling on evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox not to comply with rules and laws permitting abortion, same-sex marriage, and other practices that go against their religious consciences. The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman and that the extension of the civil definition of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the common good of society as a whole. In the debate on the D.C. same-sex marriage bill, the Archdiocese of Washington advocated for religious liberty provisions that would protect the Church's ability to provide social services (i.e. adoption) in accordance with Catholic teaching on marriage. After the Washington Post characterized the archdiocese as giving an "ultimatum" to the city and the New York Times called it a "threat", Wuerl wrote a letter to the Post stating there was "no threat or ultimatum to end services, just a simple recognition that the new requirements by the city for religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriages in their policies could restrict our ability to provide the same level of services as we do now." In December 2009, on the day of the bill's passage, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a same-sex marriage advocacy organization, wrote that Wuerl had "refused to alter his official position" to reduce social services in the archdiocese. On the same day the archdiocese, though expressing its view that the bill did not adequately protect religious liberty, nonetheless affirmed its commitment to serving the needs of the poor and its hope for "working in partnership with the District of Columbia consistent with the mission of the Catholic Church." In February 2010 shortly before the law took effect, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington ended its foster care and public adoption programs rather than comply with the law's requirement that it license same-sex couples for the program. The agency also modified its employee health care benefits to avoid having to extend coverage to same-sex couples.
Response to Dominus Iesus
In 2000, the Vatican issued a document entitled Dominus Iesus which stated that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. While in places the document seemed insensitive to other Christians, and was easily open to scare tactics by the press, Wuerl said it was aimed at some theologians in Asia who are addressing Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism, and it defends the necessity of proclaiming the Christian faith to them also. The document acknowledges that there are elements in non-Christian scriptures "by which countless people throughout the centuries have been and still are able today to nourish and maintain their life-relationship with God."
Response to Summorum pontificum
After Pope Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio Summorum pontificum (2007) authorizing Latin Church priests to celebrate Mass using either the Roman Missal as revised in 1969 or the 1962 edition, Wuerl said the Pope "is trying to reach out pastorally to those who feel an attraction to this form of the liturgy, and he is asking the pastors to be aware of and support their interest". He added that about 500 people a week were attending celebrations of the Tridentine Mass at three places in his archdiocese. He had a circular sent to his priests about a special committee that he would establish "to assist pastors in evaluating and responding to requests for the regular and public celebration" of the 1962 form of Mass. As of 2017, the Tridentine Mass was celebrated weekly in three places, the same ones as in 2007.
- The Forty Martyrs: New Saints of England and Wales (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1971)
- Fathers of the Church (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1975)
- The Catholic Priesthood Today (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1976)
- The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1976), co-author
- A Visit to the Vatican: For Young People (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1981)
- The Gift of Faith: A Question and Answer Version of The Teaching of Christ (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2001)
- The Catholic Way: Faith for Living Today (New York: Doubleday, 2001)
- The Sacraments: A Continuing Encounter with Christ (Our Sunday Visitor, 2010)
- The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition (New York: Doubleday, 2011)
- The Gift of Blessed John Paul II (Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us Press, 2011)
- Seek First the Kingdom: Challenging the Culture by Living Our Faith (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2011)
- Faith That Transforms Us: Reflections on the Creed (Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us Press, 2013)
- New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today (Our Sunday Visitor, 2013)
- The Church: Unlocking the Secrets to the Places Catholics Call Home (Image, 2013)
- The Light is On For You: The Life-Changing Power of Confession (Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us Press, 2014)
- The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics (Image: 2014)
- Open to the Holy Spirit: Living the Gospel with Wisdom (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014)
- The Marriage God Wants For You (Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us Press, 2015)
- To the Martyrs: A Reflection on the Supreme Christian Witness (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2015)
- Ways to Pray: Growing Closer to God (Our Sunday Visitor, 2015)
Pastoral letters as Archbishop of Washington
- "Being Catholic Today: Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge" (So Católico Hoy: Identidad católica en una época de desafíos), May 24, 2015
- "Manifesting the Kingdom: A Pastoral Letter on the First Synod of the Archdiocese of Washington" (La Manifestación del Reino), June 8, 2014
- The Church, Our Spiritual Home (La Iglesia, Nuestro Hogar Espiritual), September 14, 2012
- "Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision", August 23, 2010
- "God's Mercy and Loving Presence" (La Misericordia y la Amorosa Presencia de Dios), January 3, 2010
- "Belonging to God's Family" (Pertenciendo a la Familia de Dios), January 25, 2009
- "Catholic Education: Looking to the Future with Confidence", September 14, 2008
- "Reflections on God's Mercy And Our Forgiveness" (Reflexiones sobre la Misericordia de Dios y el Perdón), January 1, 2008
- "God's Mercy and the Sacrament of Penance" (La Misericordia de Dios y el Sacramento de la Penitencia), January 8, 2007
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- National Catholic Educational Association – Press Release Webpage – From January 4, 2006 – Retrieved on May 18, 2009
- National Catholic Educational Association – Board of Directors Webpage Retrieved on October 17, 2008
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- Archbishop of Washington Talks Sexual Abuse, Don't Ask Don't Tell
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- Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience Archived September 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Website – Defense of Marriage
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- Wright, Laura (February 9, 2010). "Catholic Charities ends foster care program to avoid compromising religious beliefs". Catholic Standard. Archdiocese of Washington.
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- Glenn, Francis A. (1993), Shepherds of the Faith 1843–1993: A Brief History of the Bishops of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh: Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Donald Wuerl.|
- "Wuerl Card. Donald William". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington Official Site
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh History of Bishops webpage
- on YouTube
|Catholic Church titles|
|— TITULAR —
Cardinal-Priest of San Pietro in Vincoli
|Archbishop of Washington
|Bishop of Pittsburgh
|Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle