Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, has abruptly called off his visit to Ireland with Pope Francis after being named in the Pennsylvania church scandal involving 300 priests.

Wuerl had been scheduled to give the keynote address at the World Meeting of Families (WMF) entitled “The Welfare of the Family is Decisive for the Future of the World,”at the RDS on Wednesday, the opening day of the three-day WMF.

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No reason was given for his decision to withdraw but, as the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, Wuerl was criticized in a grand jury report published last Tuesday over his handling of abuse allegations in Pennsylvania. There have been calls for his resignation.

Wuerl's name appeared more than 200 times in the grand jury report released last Tuesday, accusing him of covering up sexual abuse of children by clergy while serving as Pittsburgh's bishop.

Ninety-nine priests in the diocese of Pittsburgh were named. Wuerl, who served as the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, did discipline some priests — but he covered up for several other priests including the notorious one who “groomed” “George” the worst abused boy who was passed around and photographed by a pedophilia ring of priests.

Ending Clergy Abuse, an international survivors’ campaign group,wrote to Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin and WMF’s host, asking for the removal f  of three cardinals facing questions about child-abuse The three are Cardinal Óscar Maradiaga of Honduras and Cardinals Kevin Farrell (a close associate of disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and Donald Wuerl of the United States.

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Meanwhile, a government minister has said he will boycott the event.
The Independent Alliance minister John Halligan has said that,“I’m making my protest as a citizen and as a politician,” he said.

“There has to be an element in the government and those of us who represent the state to say, ‘No, I don’t want to meet this man for these reasons.’ The church’s attitude to women and child sexual abuse, and how slowly they’ve been dealing with it, and to gay and transgender people is appalling. There is no change on these issues by this pope.

“Pope Francis is welcome to Ireland, but families in Ireland have been damaged by abuse and I think he’s left it very late to say he will meet the victims. Politicians need to stand up for the victims.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington.Wikipedia/Public Domain