WASHINGTON – A highly visible member of Washington's Catholic clergy has made a dramatic declaration, calling on Cardinal Donald Wuerl to resign, the latest blow to D.C.'s embattled archbishop.
Deacon James Garcia, in his role as the master of ceremony at St. Matthew's Cathedral in the District of Columbia, typically stands beside Wuerl during nearly every major liturgy of the year. But Garcia wrote in a letter to Wuerl, which the deacon published online Saturday, that he refuses to assist in any mass led by Wuerl again. Since deacons vow obedience to their bishop, it is a bold gesture.
"The time for cowardice and self-preservation is long past. Victims cry out for justice and the faithful deserve shepherds who are not compromised. Apology and accompaniment are critical. But no amount of apology will suffice unless and until bishops and other complicit clergy are removed or resign," Garcia wrote in his letter. And he addressed Wuerl directly: "I cannot, in good conscience, continue to assist you personally, whether as an assisting deacon or a master of ceremony."
Since a Pennsylvania grand jury in August released a major investigative report cataloging alleged child abuse committed in the state by more than 300 priests, Wuerl — who oversaw some of these abusive priests during his 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh before he became archbishop of Washington — has faced calls to resign from numerous corners.