Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrates an Oct. 26 Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, officially closing a six-week "Season of Healing" in the archdiocese. The Mass was concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville and Roy E. Campbell.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrates an Oct. 26 Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, officially closing a six-week "Season of Healing" in the archdiocese. The Mass was concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville and Roy E. Campbell.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl officially ended the six-week “Season of Healing” with an Oct. 26 Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle by calling it “a step in the right direction of the renewal of our Church” and promising that “the season will continue into the future.”

“We renew our commitment to pray for and walk with our suffering brothers and sisters,” Cardinal Wuerl said, adding prayers for “the ongoing experience of the season of healing.”

A “Season of Healing” for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the cathedral that was also celebrated by Cardinal Wuerl.

In announcing the “Season of Healing,” the cardinal called for “parishes and parishioners to come together in prayer, to give voice to the pain and suffering of the survivors of clergy sexual abuse, while also recognizing the pain and wound of the whole Church. “

At the Oct. 26 Mass at the cathedral, Cardinal Wuerl said “this very necessary season” helped the faithful turn to “God’s healing spirit … to bring healing to the pain and suffering of the victims of clergy abuse.” 

He called the six-week period “a time for healing, restoring and renewing” for victims of abuse, their families and the entire Church.”

“We do not hesitate to beg God’s mercy and His compassion to heal every wound,” the cardinal said, adding that the Church “is mindful of the suffering, the pain and the sorrow of so many.”

The midday Mass was concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville and Roy E. Campbell. During the Mass, prayers were offered that “all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.”

Cardinal Wuerl also prayed that “God’s healing power brings light, redemption, healing and strength” to the Church and that “survivors find God’s healing grace and know Jesus’s powerful love for them.”

The “Season of Healing” was called to counter what Cardinal Wuerl called “confusion, disappointment and disunity” and to help bring about healing in the wake of recent sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in the United States.

This past summer, it was announced that former Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick had been credibly accused of abusing a minor nearly 50 years ago when he was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, and that settlements had been made in the New Jersey dioceses of Newark and Metuchen where he had earlier served as a bishop, related to his alleged sexual misconduct with seminarians. 

Then in mid-August, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report was issued detailing the sexual abuse suffered by more than 1,000 survivors by 300 priests over the past seven decades in six dioceses in that state, including in Pittsburgh, which was led by then-Bishop Wuerl from 1988 until he was named archbishop of Washington in 2006. Cardinal Wuerl, who faced heavy criticism after the report was issued, has defended his record in Pittsburgh, saying he reached out to survivors there, removed all priests credibly accused of abuse, and enacted strong child protection measures.

Cardinal Wuerl, who has served as archbishop of Washington since 2006, tendered his resignation to the pope in November 2015 after turning 75, in accordance with Church law. Pope Francis accepted that resignation Oct. 12 and announced that Cardinal Wuerl would serve as apostolic administrator for the Archdiocese of Washington until the installation of a new archbishop, whom the pope has not yet appointed.