Washington is not the only archdiocese facing a restive laity

Just a few months ago – though it seems like years – Washington, DC was the most coveted see in America. Though not the largest or wealthiest diocese, its archbishop is often the most politically well-connected cleric in the United States.

All that changed when its former archbishop, Theodore McCarrick, was revealed to be a serial sex abuser. Then, accusations of complicity began to pile up against his successor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. On September 12, his spokesman said he would travel to Rome and ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation.

There is much speculation about who will succeed him, but the consensus is that Archbishop of Washington isn’t the cushy job it once seemed. Indeed, being a bishop suddenly seems less desirable. The fallout from the McCarrick is threatening to bring whole dioceses crashing down.

This scandal first erupted on June 20, when the Archdiocese of New York announced that “credible and substantiated” claims had been levelled against McCarrick dating back to 1961 while he was a priest of the archdiocese.

The archdiocese issued a press release, calling it “the first such report of a violation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People ever made against [McCarrick] of which the archdiocese was aware”. The wording of this statement raised eyebrows: the archdiocese did not say whether allegations had been made by men old enough to legally consent.

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