'Shame on you!' Cardinal Wuerl hears from protester after Sunday Mass

Cardinal Donald Wuerl Credit Archdiocese of Boston via Flickr CC BY NC 20 CNA Cardinal Donald Wuerl. | Archdiocese of Boston vial Flickr CC BY NC 2.0

As Cardinal Donald Wuerl spoke about the sex abuse crisis after Mass in Washington D.C. on Sunday, one man stood up and yelled, "Shame on you!" in protest.

"We need to hold close in our prayers and our loyalty, our Holy Father Pope Francis. Increasingly it is clear that he is the object of considerable animosity ..." Wuerl said before a Catholic in the congregation, Brian Garfield, shouted at Wuerl and walked out of the Church of the Annunciation, where the cardinal had just completed the installation Mass of a new pastor.  

At least one other woman walked out in protest of the cardinal, while another turned her back. Wuerl responded, "Yes, my brothers and sisters, shame." He expressed regret that he had not "always been right" during his past 30 years as a bishop.

Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington D.C. and successor of former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, came under increasing scrutiny in August because of his role in sex abuse cases listed in an Aug. 14 Pennsylvania grand jury report and because he has been accused of negligent oversight of his predecessor, McCarrick, who is alleged to have sexually abused priests, seminarians, and two minors.

Both Cardinal Wuerl and Pope Francis were directly accused of being aware of McCarrick's misconduct in an Aug. 25 letter released by former Vatican ambassador Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

"We confess as a Church that there has been a terrible evil present," Wuerl said at the Sept. 2 Mass, "This confession calls on all of us, but certainly those responsible for leadership in the Church for apology, contrition, atonement, and it is never ever too late to begin that essential action of prayerful penance."

The cardinal expressed his personal regrets in an Aug. 30 letter sent to Washington priests.

"I ask you, as I did at the Cathedral, for prayers for me, for forgiveness for my errors in judgment, for my inadequacies, and also for your acceptance of my contrition for any suffering I have caused, as well as the grace to find, with you, ways of healing, ways of offering fruitful guidance in this darkness," wrote Wuerl in the letter.

"I would give anything, as would all of us, to turn the clock around and have the Church do everything right," he continued.

After the Mass with Wuerl on Sept. 2, one of the protesting parishioners, Mary Challinor, told CNN, "Just because you didn't mean to do something does not mean that there weren't terrible consequences for lots of people … I feel he should resign as cardinal."

Wuerl's spokesman countered in comments Sunday to CNN: "Cardinal Wuerl has spoken extensively over the past two months, conveyed his profound sadness, apologies and contrition and addressed every issue as it has arisen in a straightforward and transparent manner."

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