Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a U.S. cardinal accused of obscuring child abuse cases implicating hundreds of clergymen in his former diocese.
Cardinal and Archbishop of Washington Donald Woerl had been criticized for covering up the abuse of more than 1,000 children mostly young boys during his time as head of the Pittsburgh bishopric.
According to the Holy See’s official news agency, Pope Francis sent a letter expressing his acceptance of Woerl’s resignation after having received it on Sept. 21.
In his letter, the Pope praised Woerl’s “nobility”, saying that the Cardinal had proven he “put God’s Project first”.
He asked the Cardinal to remain in his duties until a successor is appointed.
Pennsylvania state’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro had revealed after a two-year investigation that the sexual abuse cases had been “systematically” covered up by senior Church authorities in Pennsylvania and Vatican City. More than 300 Catholic priests were found guilty in the trial, with estimated number of sexual abuse victims being much higher than official plaintiffs due to fear of speaking out.