Pope Francis is now calling on Catholics worldwide to pray through the month in a bid to fight back the devil and protect the Church.
But, Cardinal Ouellet said, rumors about Archbishop McCarrick did reach the Vatican years ago, so both he and his predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, made requests to Archbishop McCarrick "not to travel or to make public appearances, in order to avoid new rumors about him". "My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the Church of Washington". Pope Benedict elevated then-Archbishop Wuerl to the College of Cardinals in November 2010, shortly after Wuerl's 70th birthday. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense.
Wuerl's powers are limited to "caretaking" of the church until a new archbishop is named for the Archdiocese of Washington, the Rev. William Byrne, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, Maryland, told WTOP.
Pope Francis said the devil is trying to divide and attack the Catholic Church, as the Vatican deals with multiple sexual abuse scandals and accusations that Francis covered for priests accused of sexual misconduct.
In his letter accepting the resignation, Francis said he recognized that in asking to retire, Wuerl had put the interests and unity of his flock ahead of his own ambitions, as all shepherds must do.
In the report, Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, is repeatedly cited as one of the church leaders who helped cover up the scandal.
In a message delivered from his balcony at the Vatican, the Pope claimed that Satan has been working to undermine the work of the Roman Catholic Church and the divisions it has created. In this capacity, Wuerl attended the 1978 conclave that elected Pope St. John Paul II as an aide to the ailing Cardinal Wright. He served briefly as auxiliary bishop in Seattle before going to Pittsburgh. The appointment generated serious conflict among Archbishop Hunthausen's supporters, and Bishop Wuerl was relieved of his responsibility in 1987.
Archbishop McCarrick is pictured in a 2001 photo in Washington in Washington.
For the last five years, Wuerl has also been the single most important voice within the USA hierarchy defending Pope Francis, at a time when some other American bishops and Catholic leaders have struck discordant notes. Wuerl was in Washington on Friday morning. He has served on a number of Vatican congregations, councils and commissions, as well as numerous national and global organizations such as the Papal Foundation and various committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Earlier today, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, accepted my resignation as Archbishop of Washington that I first offered nearly three years ago.
As for the written instructions the Congregation for Bishops prepared for Archbishop Vigano in 2011 when he was to begin his service as nuncio to the United States, "they say nothing at all about McCarrick".
On Labor Day, Wuerl met with the priests in his archdiocese.