VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis sent Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl a warm letter in accepting his resignation, praising what he said was Wuerl’s nobility and sacrifice in stepping down for the greater good of the Catholic Church.
Here are excerpts of the letter, in which Francis asks Wuerl to remain on in a temporary position until his successor is found. It was issued on Francis’ letterhead, dated Oct. 12, written in Italian and signed with Francis’ typical tiny signature at the end.
“I am aware that this request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care. The shepherd knows that the well-being and the unity of the People of God are precious gifts that the Lord has implored and for which he gave his life. He paid a very high price for this unity and our mission is to take care that the people not only remain united, but become witnesses of the Gospel ‘That they may all be one. …'”
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“I recognize in your request the heart of the shepherd who, by widening his vision to recognize a greater good that can benefit the whole body prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity and mission of the church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies who, trying to hurt the shepherd, wants nothing more than that the sheep be dispersed.”
“You have sufficient elements to ‘justify’ your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes. However your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.”